Skip to main content
Internet Archive's 25th Anniversary Logo

Full text of "On the Foreign Policy of the Soviet State"

See other formats

Workers of All Countries , Unite! 

V. I. Lenin 

On the Foreign Policy 
of the Soviet State 



The translations are taken from the 
English edition of V. I. Lenin’s Collected 
Works prepared by Progress Publishers, 

Corrections have been made in accordance 
with the Fifth Russian edition of the Collected 

First printing 1964 
Second printing 1968 
Third printing 1973 

Printed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics 





AND SOLDIERS’ DEPUTIES. October 25-26 (November 7-8), 

1917 .11 

1. REPORT ON PEACE. October 26 (November 8) . . . . 11 

Decree on Peace.11 


ON THE REPORT ON PEACE. October 26 (November 8) 16 

WIRELESS MESSAGE. To All Regimental, Divisional, Corps, 
Army and Other Committees, to All Soldiers of the Revolutionary 

Army and Sailors of the Revolutionary Navy.20 

OF THE NAVY. November 22 (December 5), 1917. Minutes 22 




SOVIETS. March U-16, 1918 . 


March H . 




MENTALITY (Extract) . 




OF THE ALL-RUSSIA C.E.C. July 15, 1918 . 














1918 .. . 85 


ARMY DEPUTIES. November 6-9, 1918 .117 


GOVERNMENT (Extract) .131 

EIGHTH CONGRESS OF THE R.C.P.(B.). March 18-23, 1919 . . 137 


March 18 .137 


March 19 .141 




EAST. November 22, 1919 .152 

December 2-4, 1919 .165 


5-9, 1919 .167 

COMMISSARS. December 5 .167 

MITTEE, SEVENTH CONVOCATION. February 2, 1920 ... 183 






WORLD (U.S.A.).204 

NINTH CONGRESS OF THE R.C.P.(B.). March 29-April 5, 1920 210 



THE COLONIAL QUESTIONS. (For the Second Congress of 
the Communist International.). 224 

RURAL WORK. June 12, 1920 . 232 

TIONAL. July 19-August 7, 1920 . 240 





TO G. V. CHICHERIN. July 22, 1920 . 258 

ber 22-25, 1920 . 260 

tember 22, 1920 (Newspaper Report) ..260 

COMMITTEES OF MOSCOW GUBERNIA. October 15, 1S20 . . 265 

LETTER TO G. V. CHICHERIN. November 19, 1920 . 280 



OF THE PARTY. From a Speech Delivered to the Moscow 
Gubernia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.), November 21, 1920 283 

22-29, 1920 





SOVIETS. December 21 . 291 


POLICY. December 22 .*.314 


1921 323 

DEPUTIES. February 28, 1921 330 

TENTH CONGRESS OF THE R.C.P.(B.). March 8-16, 1921 ... 335 

CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE R.C.P.(B.). March 8 ... 335 

ON THE KRONSTADT REVOLT. Summary of a Talk with a 
Correspondent of The New York Herald Tribune .340 

26-28, 1921 . 341 



1921 342 

NOTE TO G. V. CHlCHERIN. Not earlier than September 16, 1921 343 

( Extract ) 344 

LETTER TO G. V. CHlCHERIN. October 16, 1921 348 



1921 351 


From the Report of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee 
and the Council of People’s Commissars. December 23 .. . 351 

Copy to Comrade Radek and All Members of the Political 


LETTER TO G. V. CHICHERIN. February 15, 1922 . 367 

SOVIET REPUBLIC. From a Speech Delivered to a Meeting 



of the Communist Group at the All-Russia Congress of Metal¬ 
workers. March 6, 1922 368 

ELEVENTH CONGRESS OF THE R.C.P.(B.). March 27-April 2, 

1922 380 

MITTEE OF THE R.C.P.(B.). March 27 ., . . 380 




CONVOCATION. October 31, 1922 . . 393 

MOSCOW SOVIET. November 20, 1922 . 396 


for the Plenary Meeting of the Central Committee.409 




LETTER TO G. V. CHICHERIN. March 14, 1922 . 426 





OCTOBER 25-26 (NOVEMBER 7-8), 1917 



The question of peace is a burning question, the pain¬ 
ful question of the day. Much has been said and written 
on the subject, and all of you, no doubt, have discussed it 
quite a lot. Permit me, therefore, to proceed to read a 
declaration which the government you elect should publish. 


The workers’ and peasants’ government, created by the 
Revolution of October 24-25 and basing itself on the So¬ 
viets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies, calls 
upon all the belligerent peoples and their governments to 
start immediate negotiations for a just, democratic peace. 

By a just or democratic peace, for which the overwhelm¬ 
ing majority of the working class and other working people 
of all the belligerent countries, exhausted, tormented and 
racked by the war, are craving—a peace that has been most 
definitely and insistently demanded by the Russian workers 
and peasants ever since the overthrow of the tsarist mon¬ 
archy—by such a peace the government means an im¬ 
mediate peace without annexations (i.e., without the seizure 
of foreign lands, without the forcible incorporation of 
foreign nations) and without indemnities. 

The Government of Russia proposes that this kind of 
peace be immediately concluded by- all the belligerent 
nations, and expresses its readiness to take all the resolute 
measures now, without the least delay, pending the final 



ratification of all the terms of such a peace by authoritative 
assemblies of the people’s representatives of all countries 
and all nations. 

In accordance with the legal consciousness of democrats 
in general, and of the working classes in particular, the 
government conceives the annexation or seizure of foreign 
lands to mean every incorporation of a small or weak 
nation into a large or powerful state without the precisely, 
clearly and voluntarily expressed consent and wish of that 
nation, irrespective of the time when such forcible incor¬ 
poration took place, irrespective also of the degree of de¬ 
velopment or backwardness of the nation forcibly annexed 
to the given state, or forcibly retained within its borders, 
and irrespective, finally, of whether this nation is in Europe 
or in distant, overseas countries. 

If any nation whatsoever is forcibly retained within the 
borders of a given state, if, in spite of its expressed desire— 
no matter whether expressed in the press, at public meet¬ 
ings, in the decisions of parties, or in protests and upris¬ 
ings against national oppression—it is not accorded the 
right to decide the forms of its state existence by a free 
vote, taken after the complete evacuation of the troops 
of the incorporating or, generally, of the stronger nation 
and without the least pressure being brought to bear, such 
incorporation is annexation, i.e., seizure and violence. 

The government considers it the greatest of crimes 
against humanity to continue this war over the issue of how 
to divide among the strong and rich nations the weak 
nationalities they have conquered, and solemnly announces 
its determination immediately to sign terms of peace to 
stop this war on the terms indicated, which are equally 
just for all nationalities without exception. 

At the same time the government declares that it does 
not regard the above-mentioned peace terms as an ultima¬ 
tum; in other words, it is prepared to consider any other 
peace terms, and insists only that they be advanced by any 
of the belligerent countries as speedily as possible, and 
that in the peace proposals there should be absolute clarity 
and the complete absence of all ambiguity and secrecy. 

The government abolishes secret diplomacj^, and, for its 
part, announces its firm intention to conduct all negotia- 


tions quite openly in full view of the whole people. It will 
proceed immediately with the full publication of the secret 
treaties 2 endorsed or concluded by the government of 
landowners and capitalists from February to October 25, 
1917. 3 The government proclaims the unconditional and 
immediate annulment of everything contained in these 
secret treaties insofar as it is aimed, as is mostly the case, 
at securing advantages and privileges for the Russian land- 
owners and capitalists and at the retention, or extension, of 
the annexations made by the Great Russians. 

Proposing to the governments and peoples of all coun¬ 
tries immediately to begin open negotiations for peace, 
the government, for its part, expresses its readiness to 
conduct these negotiations in writing, by telegraph, and by 
talks between representatives of the various countries, or 
at a conference of such representatives. In order to facili¬ 
tate such negotiations, the government is appointing its 
plenipotentiary representative to neutral countries. 

The government proposes an immediate armistice to the 
governments and peoples of all the belligerent countries, 
and, for its part, considers it desirable that this armistice 
should be concluded for a period of not less than three 
months, i.e., a period long enough to permit the completion 
of negotiations for peace with the participation of the 
representatives of all peoples or nations, without exception, 
involved in or compelled to take part in the war, and the 
summoning of authoritative assemblies of the representa¬ 
tives of the peoples of all countries for the final ratification 
of the peace terms. 

While addressing this proposal for peace to the govern¬ 
ments and peoples of all the belligerent countries, the Pro¬ 
visional Workers’ and Peasants’ Government of Russia 
appeals in particular also to the class-conscious workers 
of the three most advanced nations of mankind and the 
largest states participating in the present war, namely, 
Great Britain, France and Germany. The workers of these 
countries have made the greatest contributions to the cause 
of progress and socialism; they have furnished the great 
examples of the Chartist movement 4 in England, a number 
of revolutions of historic importance effected by the French 
proletariat, and, finally, the heroic struggle against the 



Anti-Socialist Law in Germany 5 and the prolonged, persist¬ 
ent and disciplined work of creating mass proletarian 
organisations in Germany, a work which serves as a model 
to the workers of the whole world. All these examples of 
proletarian heroism and historical creative work are a 
pledge that the workers of the countries mentioned will 
understand the duty that now faces them of saving man¬ 
kind from the horrors of war and its consequences, that 
these workers, by comprehensive, determined, and supreme¬ 
ly vigorous action, will help us to conclude peace success¬ 
fully, and at the same time emancipate the labouring and 
exploited masses of the population from all forms of 
slavery and all forms of exploitation. 

The workers’ and peasants’ government, created by the 
Revolution of October 24-25 and basing itself on the sup¬ 
port of the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ 
Deputies, must start immediate negotiations for peace. Our 
appeal must be addressed both to the governments and to 
the peoples. We cannot ignore the governments, for that 
would delay the possibility of concluding peace, and the 
people’s government dare not do that; but we have no 
right not to appeal to the peoples at the same time. Every¬ 
where there are differences between the governments and 
the peoples, and we must therefore help the peoples to inter¬ 
vene in questions of war and peace. We will, of course, 
insist upon the whole of our programme for a peace without 
annexations and indemnities. We shall not retreat from it; 
but we must not give our enemies an opportunity to say 
that their conditions are different from ours and that there¬ 
fore it is useless to start negotiations with us. No, we must 
deprive them of that advantageous position and not present 
our terms in the form of an ultimatum. Therefore the 
point is included that we are willing to consider any peace 
terms and all proposals. We shall consider them, but that 
does not necessarily mean that we shall accept them. We 
shall submit them for consideration to the Constituent 
Assembly 6 which will have the power to decide what con¬ 
cessions can and what cannot be made. We are combating 


the deception practised by governments which pay lip-serv¬ 
ice to peace and justice, but in fact wage annexationist 
and predatory wars. No government will say all it thinks. 
We, however, are opposed to secret diplomacy and will act 
openly in full view of the whole people. We do not close 
our eyes to difficulties and never have done. War cannot 
be ended by refusal, it cannot be ended by one side. We are 
proposing an armistice for three months, but shall not reject 
a shorter period, so that the exhausted army may breathe 
freely, even if only for a little while; moreover, in all the 
civilised countries national assemblies must be summoned 
for the discussion of the terms. 

In proposing an immediate armistice, we appeal to the 
class-conscious workers of the countries that have done so 
much for the development of the proletarian movement. 
We appeal to the woTkers of Britain, where there was the 
Chartist movement, to the workers of France, who have 
in repeated uprisings displayed the strength of their class- 
consciousness, and to the workers of Germany, who waged 
the fight against the Anti-Socialist Law and have created 
powerful organisations. 

In the Manifesto of March 14, 7 we called for the over¬ 
throw of the bankers, but, far from overthrowing our own 
bankers, we entered into an alliance with them. Now we 
have overthrown the government of the bankers. 

The governments and the bourgeoisie will make every 
effort to unite their forces and drown the workers’ and 
peasants’ revolution in blood. But the three years of war 
have been a good lesson to the masses—the Soviet move¬ 
ment in other countries and the mutiny in the German 
navy, which was crushed by the officer cadets of Wilhelm 
the hangman. Finally, we must remember that we are not 
living in the depths of Africa, but in Europe, where news 
can spread quickly. 

The workers’ movement will triumph and will pave the 
way to peace and socialism. (Prolonged applause.) 

Izvestia No. 208, October 27, 1917, 
and Prauda No. 171, November 10 
(October 28), 1917 

Collected Works, Vol. 26, 
pp. 249-53 




I shall not touch on the general character of the decla¬ 
ration. The government which your Congress sets up may 
amend unessential points. 

I shall vigorously oppose lending our demand for peace 
the form of an ultimatum. An ultimatum may prove fatal 
to our whole cause. We cannot demand that, since some 
insignificant departure from our demands on the part of 
the imperialist governments would give them the oppor¬ 
tunity of saying that it was impossible to enter into 
negotiations for peace because of our irreconcilability. 

We shall send out our appeal everywhere, it will be made 
known to everybody. It will be impossible to conceal the 
terms proposed by our workers’ and peasants’ government. 

It will be impossible to hush up our workers’ and peas¬ 
ants’ revolution, which has overthrown the government 
of bankers and landowners. 

The governments may not reply to an ultimatum; they 
will have to reply to the text as we formulate it. Let every¬ 
one know what their governments have in mind. We do not 
want any secrets. We want a government to be always 
under the supervision of the public opinion of its country. 

What will the peasant of some remote province say if, 
owing to our insistence on ultimatums, he will not know 
what another government wants? He will say: Comrades, 


why did you rule out the possibility of any peace terms 
being proposed? I would have discussed them, I would 
have examined them, and would then have instructed my 
representatives in the Constituent Assembly how to act. 
I am prepared to fight by revolutionary methods for just 
terms if the governments do not agree, but there might 
be such terms for some countries that I would be prepared 
to recommend their governments to go on fighting by 
themselves. The full realisation of our ideas depends solely 
on the overthrow of the entire capitalist system. This is 
what the peasant might say to us, and he would accuse us 
of being excessively uncompromising over trifles, when for 
us the main thing is to expose all the vileness, all the base¬ 
ness of the bourgeoisie and of its crowned and uncrowned 
hangmen at the head of the government. 

We should not and must not give the governments an 
opportunity of taking refuge behind our uncompromising 
attitude and of concealing from the peoples the reason why 
they are being sent to the shambles. This is a tiny drop, 
but we should not and must not reject this drop, which 
will wear away the stone of bourgeois conquest. An ulti¬ 
matum would make the position of our opponents easier. 
But we shall make all the terms known to the people. We 
shall confront all the governments with our terms, and 
let them give an answer to their people. We shall submit 
all peace proposals to the Constituent Assembly for decision. 

There is still another point, comrades, to which you must 
pay the most careful attention. The secret treaties must 
be published. The clauses dealing with annexations and 
indemnities must be annulled. There are various clauses, 
comrades—the predatory governments, you know, not only 
made agreements between themselves on plunder, but 
among them they also included economic agreements and 
various other clauses on good-neighbourly relations. 

We shall not bind ourselves by treaties. We shall not 
allow ourselves to be entangled by treaties. We reject all 
clauses on plunder and violence, but we shall welcome all 
clauses containing provisions for good-neighbourly relations 
and all economic agreements; we cannot reject these. We 
propose an armistice for three months; we choose a lengthy 
period because the peoples are exhausted, the'peoples long 



for a respite from this bloody shambles that has lasted 
over three years. We must realise that the peoples should 
be given an opportunity to discuss the peace terms and to 
express their will with parliament participating, and this 
takes time. We demand a lengthy armistice, so that the 
soldiers in the trenches may enjoy a respite from this 
nightmare of constant slaughter; but we shall not reject 
proposals for a shorter armistice; we shall examine them, 
and it is incumbent upon us to accept them, even if we are 
offered an armistice of a month or a month and a half. 
Nor must our proposal for an armistice have the form of 
an ultimatum, for we shall not give our enemies an op¬ 
portunity of concealing the whole truth from the peoples, 
using our irreconcilability as a pretext. It must not be in 
the form of an ultimatum, for a government is criminal 
that does not desire an armistice. If we do not put our 
proposal for an armistice in the form of an ultimatum, 
we shall thereby show the peoples that the governments 
are criminal, and the peoples will not stand on ceremony 
with such criminals. The objection is raised that by 
not resorting to an ultimatum we are displaying weakness, 
but it is time to cast aside all bourgeois cant when speak¬ 
ing of the strength of the people. According to the bour¬ 
geois conception, there is strength when the people go 
blindly. to the slaughter in obedience to the imperialist 
governments. The bourgeoisie admit a state to be strong 
only when it can, by the power of the government appa¬ 
ratus, hurl the people wherever the bourgeois rulers want 
them hurled. Our idea of strength is different. Our idea 
is that a state is strong when the people are politically 
conscious. It is strong when the people know everything, 
can form an opinion of everything and do everything con¬ 
sciously. We need not fear to tell the truth about fatigue, 
for what state today is not tired, what nation does not talk 
about it openly? Take Italy, where, owing to this tiredness, 
there was a prolonged revolutionary movement demanding 
the termination of the slaughter. Are there not mass 
demonstrations of workers in Germany that put forward 
a demand for the termination of the war? Was it not 
fatigue that provoked the mutiny in the German navy that 
was so ruthlessly suppressed by that hangman, Wilhelm, 



and his hirelings? If such things are possible in so disci¬ 
plined a country as Germany, where they are beginning to 
talk about fatigue and about putting an end to the war, we 
need not fear to say the same openly, because it is the 
truth, equally true both of our country and of all the bel¬ 
ligerent and even non-belligerent countries. 

Pravda No. 171, Collected Works, Vol. 26, 

November 10 (October 28), 1917 pp. 254-56 



To All Regimental, Divisional, Corps, Army 
and Other Committees, 
to All Soldiers of the Revolutionary Army 
and Sailors of the Revolutionary Navy 

On the night of November 7 the Council of People’s 
Commissars sent a wireless message to Commander-in- 
Chief Dukhonin ordering him immediately and formally 
to propose an armistice to all the belligerent countries, both 
Allied and those hostile to us. 

This message was received at Field Headquarters on 
November 8 at 5.05 a.m. Dukhonin was ordered to keep 
the Council of People’s Commissars constantly informed 
of the progress of the negotiations and to sign the armistice 
agreement only after it had been approved by the Council 
of People’s Commissars. Simultaneously, a similar proposal 
to conclude an armistice was formally submitted to all 
plenipotentiary representatives of the Allied countries in 

Not having received a reply from Dukhonin by the even¬ 
ing of November 8, the Council of People’s Commissars 
empowered Lenin, Stalin and Krylenko to ascertain the 
causes of the delay from Dukhonin over the direct line. 

The conversation lasted from 2 a.m. to 4.30 a.m. on 
November 9. Dukhonin made numerous attempts to evade 
giving an explanation of his conduct and a precise reply 
to the orders of the government, but when Dukhonin was 
given a categorical order to enter immediately into formal 
negotiations for an armistice, he refused to obey. There¬ 
upon, in the name of the Government of the Russian Re- 



public, on behalf of the Council of People’s Commissars, 
Dukhonin was informed that he was dismissed from his 
post for refusing to obey government orders and for con¬ 
duct that entailed untold hardships for the working people 
of all countries and especially for the armies. At the same 
time, Dukhonin was ordered to continue his duties pend¬ 
ing the arrival of a new Commander-in-Chief or a person 
empowered by the latter to take over from Dukhonin. 
Ensign Krylenko has been appointed the new Commander- 

Soldiers, the cause of peace is in your hands! Do not 
allow the counter-revolutionary generals to frustrate the 
great cause of peace, place them under guard in order to 
avert acts of summary justice unworthy of a revolution¬ 
ary army and to prevent these generals from escaping the 
trial that awaits them. Maintain the strictest revolutionary 
and military order. 

Let the regiments at the front immediately elect repre¬ 
sentatives to start formal negotiations for an armistice 
with the enemy. 

The Council of People’s Commissars authorises you to 
do this. 

Do everything possible to keep us informed of every 
step in the negotiations. The Council of People’s Commis¬ 
sars is alone authorised to sign the final armistice agree¬ 

Soldiers, the cause of peace is in your hands! Maintain 
vigilance, restraint and energy, and the cause of peace 
will triumph! 

In the name of the Government of the Russian Republic 

V. Ulyanov (Lenin), 
Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars 

N. Krylenko, 

People’s Commissar for War and 

Written on November 9 (22). 1917 Collected Works, Vol. 26, 

„ ,, , . , pp. .>11 -i* 

Published in the newspaper 
Rabochy i Soldat No. 20, 

November 9 (22), 1917 




“We are told that Russia will disintegrate and split up 
into separate republics but we have no reason to fear this. 
We have nothing to fear, whatever the number of inde¬ 
pendent republics. The important thing for us is not where 
the state border runs, but whether or not the working 
people of all nations remain allied in their struggle against 
the bourgeoisie, irrespective of nationality. (Stormy ap¬ 

“If the Finnish bourgeoisie are buying arms from the 
Germans in order to use them against their workers, we 
offer the latter an alliance with the Russian working 
people. Let the bourgeoisie start their filthy petty squab¬ 
bles and their trading over frontiers, the workers of all 
countries and nationalities will not fall out over that sort 
of thing. (Stormy applause.) 

“We are now ‘conquering’ Finland—to use a nasty word 
—but not the way the robber barons of international 
capitalism do. We are winning Finland over by giving her 
complete freedom to live in alliance with us or with others, 
guaranteeing full support for the working people of all 
nationalities against the bourgeoisie of all countries. It is 
not an alliance based on treaties, but on the solidarity of 
the exploited against the exploiters. 


“We now see a national movement in the Ukraine and 
we say that we stand unconditionally for the Ukrainian 
people’s complete and unlimited freedom. We have to wipe 
out that old bloodstained and dirty past when the Russia 
of the capitalist oppressors acted as the executioner of 
other peoples. We are determined to wipe out that past, 
and leave no trace of it. (Stormy applause.) 

“We are going to tell the Ukrainians that as Ukrainians 
they can go ahead and arrange their life as they see fit. 
But we are going to stretch out a fraternal hand to the 
Ukrainian workers and tell them that together with them 
we are going to fight against their bourgeoisie and ours. 
Only a socialist alliance of the working people of all 
countries can remove all ground for national persecution 
and strife. (Stormy applause.) 

“I shall now touch on the question of war. We have 
started a resolute struggle against the war brought on by 
the clash of robbers over their spoils. Until now all par¬ 
ties have spoken of this struggle but have not gone beyond 
words and hypocrisy. Now the struggle for peace is on. 
It is a difficult struggle. It is highly naive to think that 
peace can be easily attained, and that the bourgeoisie will 
hand it to us on a platter as soon as we mention it. Those 
who ascribed this view to the Bolsheviks were cheating. 
The capitalists are embroiled in a life and death struggle 
over the share-out of the booty. One thing is clear: to kill 
war is to defeat capital, and Soviet power has started the 
struggle to that end. We have published and will continue 
to publish secret treaties. We are not going to be deterred 
in this by anyone’s anger or slander. The bourgeois gentle¬ 
men are beside themselves because the people see why 
they have been driven to the slaughter. They threaten 
Russia with the prospect of another war, in which she 
will find herself isolated. But we are not going to be de¬ 
terred by the bourgeoisie’s fierce hatred for us and for our 
peace movement. It will be quite futile for them to try to 
incite the peoples against each other in this fourth year 
of the war. They are sure to fail. It is not only in this 
country, but in all the belligerent countries that the strug¬ 
gle against the imperialist Government at home is welling 
up. There has been an open mutiny in the navy even in 



Germany, which the imperialists tried for decades to turn 
into an armed camp with the entire government machine 
geared to stamping out the slightest sign of popular dis¬ 
content. To understand the significance of this mutiny, one 
has to be aware that police reprisals in Germany are un¬ 
paralleled. But revolution is not made to order; it results 
from an outburst of mass indignation. Whereas it was 
quite easy to drive out a band of nitwits, like Romanov and 
Rasputin, it is immensely more difficult to fight against 
the organised and strong clique of German imperialists, 
both crowned and uncrowned. But we can and have to 
work hand in hand with the revolutionary class of work¬ 
ing people in all countries. That is the path the Soviet 
Government has taken by making public the secret treaties 
and showing that the rulers of all countries are brigands. 
That is not propaganda by word but by deed.” (Stormy 

In conclusion the speaker dealt with the question of the 
peace talks 9 and said: 

“When the Germans gave an evasive reply to our 
demand not to transfer any troops to the Western and 
Italian fronts, we broke off the talks and shall resume 
them in a little while. And when we do tell this to the 
world, no German worker will remain ignorant of the fact 
that the peace talks had been broken off through no fault 
of ours. In the hypothetical case of the German working 
class siding with their government of imperialist plunder¬ 
ers and confronting us with the need to continue the war, 
the Russian people—who have always shed blood without 
a murmur, and have done the will of an oppressive govern¬ 
ment when quite ignorant of its aims and purposes—will 
undoubtedly throw their weight into the struggle with so 
much more courage and vigour when it came to fighting 
for socialism and freedom threatened with the bayonets of 
the world bourgeoisie. But we put our trust in the inter¬ 
national solidarity of the working masses, who will sur¬ 
mount every obstacle and barrier in the struggle for so¬ 
cialism.” (Stormy applause.) 

Izvestia No. 235, 
November 25, 1917 

Collected Works, Vol. 26, 
pp. 344-46 



The Constituent Assembly resolves: 

1. Russia is hereby proclaimed a Republic of Soviets of 
Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies. All power, 
centrally and locally, is vested in these Soviets. 

2. The Russian Soviet Republic is established on the 
principle of a free union of free nations, as a federation 
of Soviet national republics. 

Its fundamental aim being to abolish all exploitation of 
man by man, to completely eliminate the division of 
society into classes, to mercilessly crush the resistance of 
the exploiters, to establish a socialist organisation of so¬ 
ciety and to achieve the victory of socialism in all coun¬ 
tries, the Constituent Assembly further resolves: 

1. Private ownership of land is hereby abolished. All 
land together with all buildings, farm implements and 
other appurtenances of agricultural production, is pro¬ 
claimed the property of the entire working people. 

2. The Soviet laws on workers’ control and on the 
Supreme Economic Council are hereby confirmed for the 
purpose of guaranteeing the power of the working people 
over the exploiters and as a first step towards the complete 
conversion of the factories, mines, railways, and other 
means of production and transport into the property of 
the workers’ and peasants’ state. 

3. The conversion of all banks into the property of 
the workers’ and peasants’ state is hereby confirmed as 
one of the conditions for the emancipation of the working 
people from the yoke of capital. 



4. For the purpose of abolishing the parasitic sections 
of society, universal labour conscription is hereby insti¬ 

5. To ensure the sovereign power of the working people, 
and to eliminate all possibility of the restoration of the 
power of the exploiters, the arming of the working 
people, the creation of a socialist Red Army of workers 
and peasants and the complete disarming of the propertied 
classes are hereby decreed. 

1. Expressing its firm determination to wrest mankind 
from the clutches of finance capital and imperialism, 
which have in this most criminal of wars drenched the 
world in blood, the Constituent Assembly whole-heartedly 
endorses the policy pursued by Soviet power of denounc¬ 
ing the secret treaties, organising most extensive frater¬ 
nisation with the workers and peasants of the armies in 
the war, and achieving at all costs, by revolutionary 
means, a democratic peace between the nations, without 
annexations and indemnities and on the basis of the free 
self-determination of nations. 

2. With the same end in view, the Constituent Assembly 
insists on a complete break with the barbarous policy of 
bourgeois civilisation, which has built the prosperity of 
the exploiters belonging to a few chosen nations on the 
enslavement of -hundreds of millions of working people in 
Asia, in the colonies in general, and in the small countries. 

The Constituent Assembly welcomes the policy of the 
Council of People’s Commissars in proclaiming the com¬ 
plete independence of Finland, 11 commencing the evacua¬ 
tion of troops from Persia, 12 and proclaiming freedom of 
self-determination for Armenia. 13 

3. The Constituent Assembly regards the Soviet law on 
the cancellation of the loans contracted by the govern¬ 
ments of the tsar, the landowners and the bourgeoisie as 
a first blow struck at international banking, finance capi¬ 
tal, and expresses the conviction that Soviet power will 
firmly pursue this path until the international workers’ 
uprising against the yoke of capital has completely tri¬ 

Having been elected on the basis of party lists drawn 
up prior to the October Revolution, when the people were 



not yet in a position to rise en masse against the exploit¬ 
ers, had not yet experienced the full strength of resist¬ 
ance of the latter in defence of their class privileges, and had 
not yet applied themselves in practice to the task of build¬ 
ing socialist society, the Constituent Assembly considers 
that it would be fundamentally wrong, even formally, to 
put itself in opposition to Soviet power. 

In essence the Constituent Assembly considers that now, 
when the people are waging the last fight against their 
exploiters, there can be no place for exploiters in any 
government body. Power must be vested wholly and entire¬ 
ly in the working people and their authorised represent¬ 
atives—the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ 

Supporting Soviet power and the decrees of the Council 
of People’s Commissars, the Constituent Assembly consid¬ 
ers that its own task is confined to establishing the fun¬ 
damental principles of the socialist reconstruction of 

At the same time, endeavouring to create a really free 
and voluntary, and therefore all the more firm and stable, 
union of the working classes of all the nations of Russia, 
the Constituent Assembly confines its own task to setting 
up the fundamental principles of a federation of Soviet 
Republics of Russia, while leaving it to the workers and 
peasants of each nation to decide independently at their 
own authoritative Congress of Soviets whether they wish 
to participate in the federal government and in the other 
federal Soviet institutions, and on what terms. 

Written not later than 
January 3 (16), 1918 
Published in Pravda No. 2 and 
Jivestia No. 2, January 4 (17), 1918 

Collected Works , Vol. 26, 
pp. 423-25 



When I said at a Party meeting that the revolutionary 
phrase about revolutionary war might ruin our revolution, 
I was reproached for the sharpness of my polemics. There 
are, however, moments, when a question must be raised 
sharply and things given their proper names, the danger 
being that otherwise irreparable harm may be done to the 
Party and the revolution. 

Revolutionary phrase-making, more often than not, is 
a disease from which revolutionary parties suffer at times 
when they constitute, directly or indirectly, a combina¬ 
tion, alliance or intermingling of proletarian and petty- 
bourgeois elements, and when the course of revolutionary 
events is marked by big, rapid zigzags. By revolutionary 
phrase-making we mean the repetition of revolutionary 
slogans irrespective of objective circumstances at a given 
turn in events, in the given state of affairs obtaining at 
the time. The slogans are superb, alluring, intoxicating, 
but there are no grounds for them; such is the nature of 
the revolutionary phrase. 

Let us examine the groups of arguments, the most im¬ 
portant of them at least, in favour of a revolutionary war 
in Russia today, in January and February 1918, and the 
comparison of this slogan with objective reality will tell 
us whether the definition I give is correct. 


Our press has always spoken of the need to prepare for 
a revolutionary war in the event of the victory of socialism 
in one country with capitalism still in existence in the 
neighbouring countries. That is indisputable. 



The question is—how have those preparations actually 
been made since our October Revolution? 

We have prepared in this way: we had to demobilise 
the army, we were compelled to, compelled by circumstances 
so obvious, so weighty and so insurmountable that, far 
from a “trend” or mood having arisen in the Party against 
demobilisation, there was not a single voice raised against 
it. Anyone who wants to give some thought to the class 
causes of such an unusual phenomenon as the demobili¬ 
sation of the army by the Soviet Socialist Republic be¬ 
fore the war with a neighbouring imperialist state is finished 
will without great difficulty discover these causes in the 
social composition of a backward country with a small- 
peasant economy, reduced to extreme economic ruin after 
three years of war. An army of many millions was demob¬ 
ilised and the creation of a Red Army 15 on volunteer lines 
was begun—such are the facts. 

Compare these facts with the talk of a revolutionary 
war in January and February 1918, and the nature of the 
revolutionary phrase will be clear to you. 

If this “championing” of a revolutionary war by, say, 
the Petrograd and Moscow organisations had not been an 
empty phrase we should have had other facts between 
October and January; we should have seen a determined 
struggle on their part against demobilisation. But there 
has been nothing of the sort. 

We should have seen the Petrograders and Muscovites 
sending tens of thousands of agitators and soldiers to the 
front and should have received daily reports from there 
about their struggle against demobilisation, about the suc¬ 
cesses of their struggle, about the halting of demobilisa¬ 

There has been nothing of the sort. 

We should have had hundreds of reports of regiments 
forming into a Red Army, using terrorism to halt demob¬ 
ilisation, renewing defences and fortifications against a 
possible offensive by German imperialism. 

There has been nothing of the sort. Demobilisation is 
in full swing. The old army does not exist. The new army 
is only just being born. 


30 V. I. LENIN 

Anyone who does not want to comfort himself with 
mere words, bombastic declarations and exclamations 
must see that the “slogan” of revolutionary war in Februa¬ 
ry 1918 is the emptiest of phrases, that it has nothing real, 
nothing objective behind it. This slogan today contains 
nothing but sentiment, wishes, indignation and resentment. 
And a slogan with such a content is called a revolutionary 

Matters as they stand with our own Party and Soviet 
power as a whole, matters as they stand with the Bolshe¬ 
viks of Petrograd and Moscow show that so far we have not 
succeeded in getting beyond the first steps in forming a 
volunteer Red Army. To hide from this unpleasant fact— 
and fact it is—behind a screen of words and at the same 
time not only do nothing to halt demobilisation but even 
raise no objection to it, is to be intoxicated with the sound 
of words. 

A typical substantiation of what has been said is, for 
instance, the fact that in the Central Committee of our 
Party the majority df the most prominent opponents of a 
separate peace voted against a revolutionary war, voted 
against it both in January and in February. What does 
that mean? It means that everybody who is not afraid to 
look truth in the face recognises the impossibility of a 
revolutionary war. 

In such cases the truth is evaded oy putting forward, or 
attempting to put forward, arguments. Let us examine 


Argument No. 1. In 1792 France suffered economic ruin 
to no less an extent, but a revolutionary war cured every¬ 
thing, was an inspiration to everyone, gave rise to enthu¬ 
siasm and carried everything before it. Only those who 
do not believe in the revolution, only opportunists could 
oppose a revolutionary war in our, more profound revo¬ 

Let us compare this reason, or this argument, with the 
facts. It is a fact that in France at the end of the eight¬ 
eenth century the economic basis of the new, higher mode 
of production was first created, and then, as a result, as a 



superstructure, the powerful revolutionary army appeared. 
France abandoned feudalism before other countries, swept 
it away in the course of a few years of victorious revolu¬ 
tion, and led a people who were not fatigued from any 
war, who had won land and freedom, who had been made 
stronger by the elimination of feudalism, led them to war 
against a number ,of economically and politically back¬ 
ward peoples. 

Compare this to contemporary Russia. Incredible fatigue 
from war. A new economic system, superior to the organ¬ 
ised state capitalism of technically well-equipped Germa¬ 
ny, does not yet exist. It is only being founded. Our peas¬ 
ants have only a law on the socialisation of the land, 16 
but not one single year of free (from the landowner and 
from the torment of war) work. Our workers have begun 
to throw the capitalists overboard but have not yet man¬ 
aged to organise production, arrange for the exchange of 
products, arrange the grain supply and increase productiv¬ 
ity of labour. 

This is what we advanced towards, this is the road we 
took, but it is obvious that the new and higher economic 
system does not yet exist. 

Feudalism overcome, bourgeois freedom consolidated, 
and a well-fed peasant opposed to feudal countries—such 
was the economic basis of the “miracles” in the sphere of 
war in 1792 and 1793. 

^ country of small peasants, hungry and tormented by 
war, only just beginning to heal its wounds, opposed to 
technically and organisationally higher productivity of 
labour—such is the objective situation at the beginning 
of 1918. 

That is why any reminiscing over 1792, etc., is nothing 
but a revolutionary phrase. People repeat slogans, words, 
war cries, but are afraid to analyse objective reality. 


Argument No. 2. Germany “cannot attack”, her growing 
revolution will not allow it. 

The Germans “cannot attack” was an argument repeat¬ 
ed millions of times in January and at the beginning of 



February 1918 by opponents of a separate peace. The 
more cautious of them said that there was a 25 to 33 per 
cent probability (approximately, of course) of the Germans 
being unable to attack. 

The facts refuted these calculations. The opponents of 
a separate peace here, too, frequently brush aside facts, 
fearing their iron logic. 

What was the source of this mistake, which real revo¬ 
lutionaries (and not revolutionaries of sentiment) should 
he able to recognise and analyse? 

Was it because we, in general, manoeuvred and agi¬ 
tated in connection with the peace negotiations? It was not. 
We had to manoeuvre and agitate. But we also had to 
choose “our own time” for manoeuvres and agitation— 
while it was still possible to manoeuvre and agitate—and 
also for calling a halt to all manoeuvres when the issue 
became acute. 

The source of the mistake was that our relations of 
revolutionary co-operation with the German revolutionary 
workers were turned into an empty phrase. We helped and 
are helping the German revolutionary workers in every 
way we can—fraternisation, agitation, the publication of 
secret treaties, etc. That was help in deeds, real help. 

But the declaration of some of our comrades—“the 
Germans cannot attack”—was an empty phrase. We have 
only just been through a revolution in our own country. 
We all know very well why it was easier for a revolution 
to start in Russia than in Europe. We saw that we could 
not check the offensive of Russian imperialism in June 
1917, 17 although our revolution had not only begun, had 
not only overthrown the monarchy, but had set up So¬ 
viets everywhere. We saw, we knew, we explained to the 
workers—wars are conducted by governments. To stop a 
bourgeois war it is necessary to overthrow the bourgeois 

The declaration “the Germans cannot attack” was, there¬ 
fore, tantamount to declaring “we know that the German 
Government will be overthrown within the next few 
weeks’ 7 . Actually we did not, and could not, know this, 
and for this reason the declaration was an empty phrase. 

It is one thing to be certain that the German revolution 



is maturing and to do your part towards helping it mature, 
to serve it as far as possible by work, agitation and frater¬ 
nisation, anything you like, but help the maturing of the 
revolution by work. That is what revolutionary proletarian 
internationalism means. 

It is another thing to declare, directly or indirectly, 
openly or covertly, that the German revolution is already 
mature (although it obviously is not) and to base your 
tactics on it. There is not a grain of revolutionism in that, 
there is nothing in it but phrase-making. 

Such is the source of the error contained in the 
“proud”, “striking”, “spectacular”, “resounding” declara¬ 
tion “the Germans cannot attack”. 


The assertion that “we are helping the German revolu¬ 
tion by resisting German imperialism, and are thus 
bringing nearer Liebknecht’s victory over Wilhelm” is 
nothing but a variation of the same high-sounding non¬ 

It stands to reason that victory by Liebknecht—which 
will be possible and inevitable when the German revolu¬ 
tion reaches maturity—would deliver us from all interna¬ 
tional difficulties, including revolutionary war. Liebknecht’s 
victory would deliver us from the consequences of any 
foolish act of ours. But surely that does not justify foolish 

Does any sort of “resistance” to German imperialism 
help the German revolution? Anyone who cares to think 
a little, or even to recall the history of the revolutionary 
movement in Russia, will quite easily realise that resistance 
to reaction helps the revolution only when it is expedient. 
During a half century of the revolutionary movement in 
Russia we have experienced many cases of resistance to 
reaction that were not expedient. We Marxists have always 
been proud that we determined the expediency of any 
form of struggle by a precise calculation of the mass forces 
and class relationships. We have said that an insurrec¬ 
tion is not always expedient; unless the prerequisites exist 
among the masses it is a gamble; we have often condemned 




the most heroic forms of resistance by individuals as 
inexpedient and harmful from the point of view of the 
revolution. In 1907, on the basis of bitter experience we 
rejected resistance to participation in the Third Duma 18 
as inexpedient, etc., etc. 

To help the German revolution we must either limit 
ourselves to propaganda, agitation and fraternisation as 
long as the forces are not strong enough for a firm, se¬ 
rious, decisive blow in an open military or insurrectionary 
clash, or we must accept that clash, if we are sure it will 
not help the enemy. 

It is clear to everyone (except those intoxicated with 
empty phrases) that to undertake a serious insurrectionary 
or military clash knowing that we have no forces, know¬ 
ing that we have no army, is a gamble that will not help 
the German workers but will make their struggle more 
difficult and make matters easier for their enemy and for 
our enemy. 


There is yet another argument that is so childishly 
ridiculous that I should never have believed it possible if 
I had not heard it with my own ears. 

“Back in October, didn’t the opportunists say that we 
had no forces, no troops, no machine guns and no equip¬ 
ment, but. these things all appeared during the struggle, 
when the struggle of class against class began. They will 
also make their app.earance in the struggle of the prole¬ 
tariat of Russia against the capitalists of Germany, the 
German proletariat will come to our help.” 

As matters stood in October, we had made a precise 
calculation of the mass forces. We not only thought, we 
knew with certainty, from the experience of the mass 
elections to the Soviets, that the overwhelming majority 
of the workers and soldiers had already come over to our 
side in September and in early October. We knew, even if 
only from the voting at the Democratic Conference, 19 that 
the coalition had also lost the support of the peasantry— 
and that meant that our cause had already won. 

The following were the objective conditions for the 
October insurrectionary struggle: 



(1) there was no longer any bludgeon over the heads 
of the soldiers—it was abolished in February 1917 (Ger¬ 
many has not yet reached “her” February); 

(2) the soldiers, like the workers, had already had 
enough of the coalition and had finished their conscious, 
planned,heartfelt withdrawal from it. 

This, and this alone, determined the correctness of the 
slogan “for an insurrection” in October (the slogan would 
have been incorrect in July, when we did not advance it). 

The mistake of the opportunists of October 20 was not 
their “concern” for objective conditions (only children 
could think it was) but their incorrect appraisal of facts — 
they got hold of trivialities and did not see the main thing, 
that the Soviets had come over from conciliation to us. 

To compare an armed clash with Germany (that has 
not yet experienced “her” February or her “July”, to say 
nothing of October), with a Germany that has a monarch¬ 
ist, bourgeois-imperialist government—to compare that 
with the October insurrectionary struggle against the 
enemies of the Soviets, the Soviets that had been maturing 
since February 1917 and had reached maturity in Septem¬ 
ber and October, is such childishness that it is only a sub¬ 
ject for ridicule. Such is the absurdity to which people are 
led by empty phrases! 


Here is another sort of argument. “But Germany will 
strangle us economically with a separate peace treaty, she 
will take away coal and grain and will enslave us.” 

A very wise argument—we must accept an armed clash, 
without an army, even though that clash is certain to result 
not only in our enslavement, but also in our strangulation, 
the seizure of grain without any compensation, putting 
us in the position of Serbia or Belgium; we have to accept 
that, because otherwise we shall get an unfavourable 
treaty, Germany will take from us 6,000 or 12,000 
million in tribute by instalments, will take grain for 
machines, etc. 

O heroes of the revolutionary phrase! In renouncing the 
“enslavement” to the imperialists they modestly pass 


over in silence the fact that it is necessary to defeat impe¬ 
rialism to be completely delivered from enslavement. 

We are accepting an unfavourable treaty and a separate 
peace knowing that today we are not yet ready for a revo¬ 
lutionary war, that we have to bide our time (as we did 
when we tolerated Kerensky’s bondage, tolerated the bon¬ 
dage of our own bourgeoisie from July to October), we 
must wait until we are stronger. Therefore, if there is a 
chance of obtaining the most unfavourable separate peace, 
we absolutely must accept it in the interests of the social¬ 
ist revolution, which is still weak (since the maturing 
revolution in Germany has not yet come to our help, to 
the help of the Russians). Only if a separate peace is 
absolutely impossible shall we have to fight immediately 
—not because it will be correct tactics, but because we 
shall have no choice. If it proves impossible there will be 
no occasion for a dispute over tactics. There will be noth¬ 
ing but the inevitability of the most furious resistance. 
But as long as we have a choice we must choose a sepa¬ 
rate peace and an extremely unfavourable treaty, because 
that will still be a hundred times better than the position 
of Belgium. 

Month by month we are growing stronger, although we 
are today still weak. Month by month the international 
socialist revolution is maturing in Europe, although it is 
not yet fully mature. Therefore ... therefore, “revolution¬ 
aries” (God save us from them) argue that we must accept 
battle when German imperialism is obviously stronger 
than we are but is weakening month by month (because 
of the slow but certain maturing of the revolution in 

The “revolutionaries” of sentiment argue magnificently, 
they argue superbly 1 


The last argument, the most specious and most wide¬ 
spread, is that “this obscene peace is a disgrace, it is 
betrayal of Latvia, Poland, Courland and Lithuania” 

Is it any wonder that the Russian bourgeoisie (and 
their hangers-on, the Novy Luch, Dyelo Naroda and 



Novaya Zhizri 21 gang) are the most zealous in elaborating 
this allegedly internationalist argument? 

No, it is no wonder, for this argument is a trap into 
which the bourgeoisie are deliberately dragging the Russian 
Bolsheviks, and into which some of them are falling 
unwittingly, because of their love of phrases. 

Let us examine the argument from the standpoint of 
theory; which should be put first, the right of nations to 
self-determination, or socialism? 

Socialism should. 

Is it permissible, because of a contravention of the 
right of nations to self-determination, to allow the Soviet 
Socialist Republic to be devoured, to expose it to the blows 
of imperialism at a time when imperialism is obviously 
stronger and the Soviet Republic obviously weaker? 

No, it is not permissible—that is bourgeois and not 
socialist politics. 

Further, would peace on the condition that Poland, 
Lithuania and Courland are returned “to us” be less 
disgraceful, be any less an annexationist peace? 

From the poiht of view of the Russian bourgeois, it 

From the point of view of the socialist-internationalist, 
it would not. 

Because if German imperialism set Poland free (which 
at one time some bourgeois in Germany desired), it would 
squeeze Serbia, Belgium, etc., all the more. 

When the Russian bourgeoisie wail against the “ob¬ 
scene” peace, they are correctly expressing their class in¬ 

But when some Bolsheviks (suffering from the phrase 
disease) repeat that argument, it is simply very sad. 

Examine, the facts relating to the behaviour of the 
Anglo-French bourgeoisie. They are doing everything they 
can to drag us into the war against Germany now, they 
are offering us millions of blessings, boots, potatoes, shells, 
locomotives (on credit... that is not “enslavement”, don’t 
fear that! It is “only” credit!). They want us to fight 
against Germany now. 

It is obvious why they should want this; they want it 
because, in. the first place, we should engage part of the 



German forces. And secondly, because Soviet power might 
collapse most easily from an untimely armed clash with 
German imperialism. 

The Anglo-French bourgeoisie are setting a trap for us: 
please be kind enough to go and fight now, our gain will 
be magnificent. The Germans will plunder you, will “do 
well” in the East, will agree to cheaper terms in the West, 
and furthermore, Soviet power will be swept away.... 
Please do fight, Bolshevik “allies”, we shall help you! 

And the “Left” (God save us from them) Bolsheviks 
are walking into the trap by reciting the most revolution¬ 
ary phrases.... 

Oh yes, one of the manifestations of the traces of the 
petty-bourgeois spirit is surrender to revolutionary phrases. 
This is an old story that is perennially new.... 


In the summer of 1907 our Party also experienced an 
attack of the revolutionary phrase that was, in some 
respects, analogous. 

St. Petersburg and Moscow, nearly all the Bolsheviks 
were in favour of boycotting the Third Duma; they w r ere 
guided by “sentiment” insiead of an objective analysis and 
walked into a trap. 

The disease has recurred. 

The times are more difficult. The issue is a million 
times more important. To fall ill at such a time is to risk 
ruining the revolution. 

We must fight against the revolutionary phrase, we 
have to fight it, we absolutely must fight it, so that at 
some future time people will not say of us the bitter truth 
that “the revolutionary phrase about revolutionary war 
ruined the revolution”. 

Pravda No. 31, February 21, 1918 Collected Works, Vol. 27, 

Signed: Karpov pp. 19-29 

l 2 vestia VTsIK No. 43, 

March 8, 1918 


The Moscow Regional Bureau 22 of our Party, in a reso¬ 
lution adopted on February 24, 1918, has expressed lack 
of confidence in the Central Committee, refused to obey 
those of its decisions “that will be connected with the 
implementation of the terms of the peace treaty with 
Austria and Germany”, and, in an “explanatory note” to 
the resolution, declared that it “considers a split in the 
Party in the very near future hardly avoidable”.* 

There is nothing monstrous, nor even strange in all 
this. It is quite natural that comrades who sharply dis¬ 
agree with the Central Committee over the question of a 
separate peace should sharply condemn the Central Com¬ 
mittee and express their conviction that a split is inevitable. 
All that is the most legitimate right of Party members, 
which is quite understandable. 

But here is what is strange and monstrous. An “explan¬ 
atory note” is appended to the resolution. Here it is in 

“The Moscow Regional Bureau considers a split in the 
Party in the very near future hardly avoidable, and it sets 

Here is the full text of the resolution-. “Having discussed the 
of ih't* eS ^ le Central Committee, the Moscow Regional Bureau 
rii't 6 expresses lack of confidence in the Central Com- 

U J ee ln view of its political line and composition, and will at the 
’ opportunity insist that a new Central Committee be elected, 
bon 'f rmor<! ’ *^e Moscow Regional Bureau does not consider itself 
that " n ?key unreservedly those decisions of the Central Committee 
near t * >e c< ? nnec ted with the implementation of the terms of the 
unaiv 1 | reat y w ith Austria and Germany.” The resolution was adopted 



itself the aim of helping to unite all consistent revolution¬ 
ary communists who equally oppose both the advocates 
of the conclusion of a separate peace and all moderate 
opportunists in the Party. In the interests of the world 
revolution, we consider it expedient to accept the possi¬ 
bility of losing Soviet power, which is now becoming purely 
formal . We maintain as before that our primary task is 
to spread the ideas of the socialist revolution to all other 
countries and resolutely to promote the workers’ dicta¬ 
torship, ruthlessly to suppress bourgeois counter-revolu¬ 
tion in Russia.” 

It is the words we have stressed in this passage which 
are—strange and monstrous. 

It is in these words that the crux of the matter lies. 

These words reduce to an absurdity the whole line put 
forward by the authors of the resolution. These words 
expose the root of their error with exceptional clarity. 

“In the interests of the world revolution it is expedient 
to accept the possibility of losing Soviet power...That 
is strange, for there is not even any connection between 
the premises and the conclusion. “In the interests of the 
world revolution it is expedient to accept military defeat 
of Soviet power”—such a proposition might be right or 
wrong, but it could not be called strange. That is the first 

Second thing: Soviet power “is now becoming purely 
formal”. Now this is not only strange but downright 
monstrous. Obviously, the authors have got themselves 
thoroughly entangled. We shall have to disentangle them. 

As regards the first question, the authors’ idea evidently 
is that it would be expedient in the interests of the world 
revolution to accept the possibility of defeat in war, which 
would lead to the loss of Soviet power, in other words, to 
the triumph of the bourgeoisie in Russia. By voicing this 
idea the authors indirectly admit the truth of what I said 
in the theses (on January 8, 1918, published in Pravda on 
February 24, 1918),* namely, that refusal to accept the 
peace terms presented by Germany would lead to Russia’s 
defeat and the overthrow of Soviet power. 

* See Collected Works, Vol. 26, pp. 442-50.— Ed. 



And so, la raison finit toujours par avoir raison —the 
truth always triumphs! My “extremist” opponents, the 
Muscovites who threaten a split, have been obliged—just 
because they have got to the point of talking openly of a 
split—to be equally explicit about their real reasons, the 
reasons which people who confine themselves to general 
phrase-making about revolutionary war prefer to pass over 
in silence. The very essence of my theses and arguments 
(as anyone who cares to read attentively my theses of 
January 7, 1918, may see) is that we must accept this 
extremely harsh peace now, at once, while at the same 
time seriously preparing for a revolutionary war (and 
accept it, moreover, precisely in the interest of such 
serious preparations). Those who confined themselves to 
general phrase-making about a revolutionary war ignored 
or failed to notice, or did not want to notice, the very 
essence of my arguments. And now it is my “extremist” 
opponents, the Muscovites, whom I have to thank from 
the bottom of my heart for having broken the “conspiracy 
of silence” over the essence of my arguments. The Mus¬ 
covites have been the first to reply to them. 

And what is their reply? 

Their reply is an admission of the correctness of my 
concrete argument. Yes, the Muscovites have admitted, we 
shall certainly be defeated if we fight the Germans now* 
Yes, this defeat would certainly lead to the fall of Soviet 

Again and again I thank my “extremist” opponents, the 
Muscovites, from the bottom of my heart for having 
broken the “conspiracy of silence” against the essence of 
my arguments, i.e., against my concrete statement as to 
what the conditions of war would be, if we were to accept 
it at once, and for having fearlessly admitted the correct¬ 
ness of my concrete statement. 

* As to the counter-argument, that to avoid fighting was anyway 
impossible, the reply has been given by the facts: On January 8 my 
theses were read; by January 15 we might have had peace. A respite 
would have been certainly assured (and for us even the briefest 
respite would have been of gigantic significance, both materially and 
morally, for the Germans would have had to declare a new war), 
if ... if it had not been for revolutionary phrase-making. 



Further, on what grounds are my arguments, the sub¬ 
stantial correctness of which the Muscovites have been 
compelled to admit, rejected? 

On the grounds that in the interests of the world revo¬ 
lution we must accept the loss of Soviet power. 

Why should the interests of the world revolution demand 
it? This is the crux of the matter; this is the very essence 
of the reasoning of those who would like to defeat my 
arguments. And it is on this, the most important, funda¬ 
mental and vital point, that not a word is said, either in 
the resolution or in the explanatory note. The authors of 
the resolution found time and space to speak of what is 
universally known and indisputable—of “ruthlessly sup¬ 
pressing bourgeois counter-revolution in Russia” (using 
the methods and means of a policy which would lead to 
the loss of Soviet power?), and of opposing all moderate 
opportunists in the Party—but of that which is really dis¬ 
putable and which concerns the very essence of the 
position of the opponents of peace—not a word! 

Strange. Extremely strange. Did the authors of the 
resolution keep silent about this because they felt that on 
this point they were particularly weak? To have plainly 
stated why (this is demanded by the interests of the world 
revolution) would most likely have meant exposing them¬ 
selves. ... 

However that may be, we have to seek out the argu¬ 
ments which may have guided the authors of the resolution. 

Perhaps the authors believe that the interests of the world 
revolution forbid making any peace at all with imperial¬ 
ists? This opinion was expressed by some of the opponents 
of peace at one of the Petrograd meetings, but only an 
insignificant minority of those who objected to a separate 
peace supported it. It is clear that this opinion would lead 
to a denial of the expediency of the Brest negotiations and 
to a rejection of peace, “even” if accompanied by the return 
of Poland, Latvia and Courland. The incorrectness of this 
view (which was rejected, for example, by a majority of 
the Petrograd opponents of peace) is as clear as day. A 
socialist republic surrounded by imperialist powers could 
not, from this point of view, conclude any economic trea¬ 
ties and could not exist at all, without flying to the moon. 



Perhaps the authors believe that the interests of the 
world revolution require that it should be given a push, 
and that such a push can be given only by war, never by 
peace, which might give the people the impression that 
imperialism was being “legitimised”? Such a “theory” 
would be completely at variance with Marxism, for Marx¬ 
ism has always been opposed to “pushing” revolutions, 
which develop with the growing acuteness of the class 
antagonisms that engender revolutions. Such a theory 
would be tantamount to the view that armed uprising is a 
form of struggle which is obligatory always and under all 
conditions. Actually, however, the interests of the world 
revolution demand that Soviet power, having overthrown 
the bourgeoisie in our country, should help that revolution, 
but that it should choose a form of help which is commen¬ 
surate with its own strength. To help the socialist revolution 
on an international scale by accepting the possibility of 
defeat of that revolution in one’s own country is a view that 
does not follow even from the “pushing” theory. 

Perhaps the authors of the resolution believe that rev¬ 
olution has already begun in Germany and has already 
reached the stage of an open, nation-wide civil war, that 
we must therefore devote our strength to helping the Ger¬ 
man workers, and must perish ourselves (“losing Soviet 
power”) to save a German revolution which has already 
started its decisive fight and is being hard pressed? Ac¬ 
cording to this theory, we, while perishing ourselves, would 
be diverting part of the forces of German counter-revolu¬ 
tion, thereby saving the German revolution. 

It is quite conceivable that, given these premises, it would 
not only be “expedient” (as the authors of the resolution 
put it) but a downright duty to accept the possibility of 
defeat and the possibility of the loss of Soviet power. But 
obviously these premises do not exist. The German revolu¬ 
tion is ripening, but it has obviously not reached the stage 
of an explosion in Germany, of civil war in Germany. By 
“accepting the possibility of losing Soviet power”, we cer¬ 
tainly would not be helping the German revolution to reach 
maturity, but would be hindering it. We would be helping 
German reaction, playing into its hands, hampering the 
socialist movement in Germany and frightening away from 



socialism large masses of German proletarians and semi¬ 
proletarians who have not yet come over to socialism and 
would be scared by the defeat of Soviet Russia, just as the 
British workers were scared by the defeat of the Paris Com¬ 
mune in 1871. 

Twist and turn them how you will, but you can find no 
logic in the authors’ contentions. There are no sensible 
arguments to support the view that “in the interests of the 
world revolution it is expedient to accept the possibility 
of losing Soviet power”. 

“Soviet power is now becoming purely formal”—this, as 
we see, is the monstrous view the authors of the Moscow 
resolution have come to proclaim. 

Since the German imperialists are going to make us pay 
indemnities and forbid us to carry on propaganda and 
agitation against Germany, Soviet power loses all signifi¬ 
cance and “becomes purely formal”—this is probably the 
line of “reasoning” of the authors of the resolution. We 
say “probably”, for the authors offer nothing clear and 
specific in support of their thesis. 

Profound and hopeless pessimism and complete despair— 
such is the sum and substance of the “theory” that the 
significance of Soviet power is purely formal, and that 
tactics which will risk the possible loss of Soviet power 
are permissible. Since there is no salvation anyway, then 
let even Soviet power perish—such is the sentiment that 
dictated this monstrous resolution. The allegedly “eco¬ 
nomic” arguments in which such ideas are sometimes 
clothed reveal the same hopeless pessimism: what sort of 
Soviet republic is it—the implication is—when not just 
tribute, but tribute on such a scale can be exacted from it? 

Nothing but despair: we shall perish anyhow! 

It is a quite understandable mood in the extremely 
desperate situation in which Russia finds herself. But it 
is not “understandable” among conscious revolutionaries. 
The typical thing about it is that here we have the views 
of the Muscovites reduced to absurdity. The Frenchmen of 
1793 would never have said that their gains—the republic 
and democracy—were becoming purely formal and that 
they would have to accept the possibility of losing the 
republic. They were not filled with despair, but with faith 



in victory. To call for a revolutionary war, and at the same 
time to talk in an official resolution of “accepting the pos¬ 
sibility of losing Soviet power”, is to expose oneself com¬ 

Early in the nineteenth century, at the time of the 
Napoleonic wars, Prussia and a number of other countries 
suffered incomparably and immeasurably greater hard¬ 
ships and burdens of defeat, conquest, humiliation and 
oppression on the part of the conqueror than Russia is 
suffering in 1918. Yet the best men of Prussia, when Napo¬ 
leon’s military jackboots trampled upon them a hundred 
times more heavily than we can be trampled upon now, 
did not despair, and did not say that their national polit¬ 
ical institutions were “purely formal”. They did not give 
up, did not succumb to the feeling: “We shall perish 
anyhow.” They signed peace treaties infinitely more drastic, 
brutal, humiliating and oppressive than the Brest Treaty, 
and then knew how to bide their time; they staunchly bore 
the conqueror’s yoke, fought again, fell under the con¬ 
queror’s yoke again, again signed the vilest of vile peace 
treaties, and again rose, and in the end liberated themselves 
(not without exploiting the dissensions among the stronger 
competing conquerors). 

Why shouldn’t this be repeated in our history? 

Why should we give way to despair and write resolutions 
—which, by heavens, are more disgraceful than the most 
disgraceful peace—saying that “Soviet power is becoming 
purely formal”? 

Why shouldn’t the most crushing military defeats in the 
struggle against the giants of modern imperialism steel the 
national character in Russia, too, strengthen self-disci¬ 
pline, put an end to the bragging and phrase-making, teach 
fortitude and bring the people round to the correct tactics 
of the Prussians when they were crushed by Napoleon— 
the tactics of signing the most humiliating of peace treaties 
when you haven’t an army, then mustering your forces 
and rising again and again? 

Why should we give way to despair at the first peace 
treaty, incredibly harsh though it be, when other nations 
were able staunchly to bear even bitterer misfortunes? 



Is it the staunchness of the proletarian who knows that 
one must submit when strength is lacking, and is then 
nevertheless able to rise again and again at any price and 
to build up strength under all circumstances, that cor¬ 
responds to these tactics of despair, or, rather, the spineless¬ 
ness of the petty bourgeois, who in our country, in the 
shape of the Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party, has beaten 
the record for phrase-making about a revolutionary war? 

No, dear Moscow “extremist” comrades, every day of 
trial will drive away from you those very workers who are 
the most class-conscious and the staunchest. Soviet power, 
they will say, is not becoming , and will not become , purely 
formal; and not only now, when the conqueror is in Pskov 
and is making us pay a ten-thousand-million-ruble tribute 
in grain, ore and money, but even if he gets as far as 
Nizhni-Novgorod and Rostov-on-Don and makes us pay a 
tribute of twenty thousand million rubles. 

Never will any foreign conquest render a popular polit¬ 
ical institution “purely formal” (and Soviet power is not 
only a political institution, far and away superior to any¬ 
thing known to history). On the contrary, alien conquest 
will only strengthen popular sympathy for Soviet power, 
provided—provided it does not indulge in reckless follies. 

And to refuse to conclude even the vilest peace when 
you have no army would be a reckless gamble, for which 
the people would be justified in condemning the govern¬ 
ment that refused to do so. 

Immensely more harsh and humiliating peace treaties 
than the Brest Treaty have been signed before in history 
(we gave some instances above) without discrediting the 
regime or turning it into a formality; they ruined neither 
the regime nor the people, but rather steeled the people, 
taught them the stern and difficult science of building up 
an effective army even in the most desperate conditions 
and under the heel of the conqueror. 

Russia is making for a new and genuine patriotic war, 
a war for the preservation and consolidation of Soviet pow¬ 
er. It is possible that another epoch will—like the epoch 
of the Napoleonic wars—be an epoch of liberation wars 
(not one war, but wars) imposed by aggressors upon Soviet 
Russia. That is possible. 



And, therefore, more humiliating than any harsh or even 
extremely harsh peace, rendered imperative owing to the 
lack of an army—more humiliating than any humiliating 
peace is humiliating despair. We shall not perish even 
from a dozen obnoxious peace treaties if we take revolt and 
war seriously. No conquerors can destroy us if we do not 
destroy ourselves by despair and phrase-making. 

Pravda Nos. 37 and 38. Collected Works, Vo!. 27 

February 28 and March I, 1918 pp. 68-75 

Signed: N. Lenin 


MARCH 14-16, 1918 



Comrades, today we have to settle a question that marks 
a turning-point in the development of the Russian 
revolution, and not only of the Russian but also of the 
international revolution, and in order to decide correctly 
on this very harsh peace which representatives of Soviet 
power have concluded at Brest-Litovsk, and which Soviet 
power asks you to approve, or ratify—in order to settle this 
question correctly it is more than ever necessary for us to 
get an understanding of the historical meaning of the turn¬ 
ing-point we are at, an understanding of the main feature 
of the development of the revolution up to now and the 
main reason for the severe defeat and the period of stern 
trials we have passed through. 

It seems to me that the chief source of disagreement 
among the Soviet parties on this question is that some 
people too easily give way to a feeling of just and legit¬ 
imate indignation over the defeat of the Soviet Republic 
by imperialism, too easily give way at times to despair 
instead of considering the historical conditions of the rev- 
oluton as they developed up to the time of the present 
peace, and as they appear to us since the peace; instead 
of doing that they try to answer questions of the tactics of 
the revolution on the basis of their immediate feelings. 
The entire history of revolutions, however, teaches us that 



when we have to do with a mass movement or with the class 
struggle, especially one like that at present developing not 
only throughout a single country, albeit a tremendous coun¬ 
try, but also involving all international relations—in such 
a case we must base our tactics first and foremost on an 
appraisal of the objective situation, we must examine 
analytically the course of the revolution up to this moment 
and the reason why it has taken a turn so menacing and 
so sharp, and so much to our disadvantage. 

If we examine the development of our revolution from 
that point of view we see clearly that it has so far passed 
through a period of relative and largely imaginary self- 
dependence, and of being temporarily independent of inter¬ 
national relations. The path travelled by our revolution 
from the end of February 1917 to February 11 of this year, 
when the German offensive began, was, by and large, a 
path of easy and rapid successes. If we study the develop¬ 
ment of that revolution on an international scale, from the 
standpoint of the Russian revolution alone, we shall see 
that we have passed through three periods in the past year. 
The first period is that in which the working class of Rus¬ 
sia, together with all advanced, class-conscious and active 
peasants, supported not only by the petty bourgeoisie but 
also by the big bourgeoisie, swept away the monarchy in 
a few days. This astounding success is to be explained by 
the fact that on the one hand, the Russian people had 
acquired a big reserve of revolutionary fighting potential 
from the experience of 1905, while on the other hand, Rus¬ 
sia, an extremely backward country, had suffered more 
than any other from the war and had, at an especially early 
date, reached a stage when it was absolutely impossible to 
continue the war under the old regime. 

This short tempestuous success when a new organisa¬ 
tion was created—the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and 
Peasants’ Deputies—was followed by the long months of 
the period of transition of our revolution, the period in 
which the government of the bourgeoisie, immediately 
undermined by the Soviets, was kept going and strengthened 
by the petty-bourgeois compromising parties, the Menshe¬ 
viks and Socialist-Revolutionaries, who supported it. It was 
a government that supported the imperialist war and the 



imperialist secret treaties, fed the working class on prom¬ 
ises, did literally nothing, and preserved the state of 
economic ruin. The Soviets mustered their forces in this 
period, a period that for us, for the Russian revolution, 
was a long one; it was a long period for the Russian rev¬ 
olution but it was a short one from the international point 
of view, because in most of the leading countries the 
period of overcoming petty-bourgeois illusions, of com¬ 
promise by various parties, groups and trends had been 
taking not months but long decades. The span of time, 
from April 20 24 to the moment Kerensky renewed the 
imperialist war in June (he had the secret imperialist 
treaty in his pocket), was decisive. This second period 
included our July defeat 25 and the Kornilov revolt, 26 and 
only through the experience of the mass struggle, only 
when the working-class and peasant masses had realised 
from their own experience and not from sermons that 
petty-bourgeois compromise was all in vain—only then, 
after long political development, after long preparations 
and changes in the moods and views of party groups, was 
the ground made ready for the October Revolution; only 
then did the Russian revolution enter the third period of 
its initial stage, a stage of isolation, or temporary separa¬ 
tion, from the world revolution. 

This third, or October, period, the period of organisa¬ 
tion, was the most difficult; at the same time it was a 
period of the biggest and most rapid triumphs. After 
October, our revolution—the revolution that placed power 
in the hands of the revolutionary proletariat, established 
its dictatorship and obtained for it the support of the vast 
majority of the proletariat and the poor peasantry—after 
October our revolution made a victorious, triumphal 
advance. Throughout Russia civil war began in the form 
of resistance by the exploiters, the landowners and bour¬ 
geoisie, supported by part of the imperialist bourgeoisie. 

Civil war broke out, and in that war the forces of the 
enemies of Soviet power, the forces of the enemies of the 
working and exploited masses, proved to be insignificant; 
the civil war was one continuous triumph for Soviet power 
because its opponents, the exploiters, the landowners and 
bourgeoisie, had neither political nor economic support, 



and their attacks collapsed. The struggle against them was 
not so much a military operation as agitation; section after 
section, mass after mass, down to the working Cossacks, 
abandoned the exploiters who were trying to lead them 
away from Soviet power. 

This period of the victorious, triumphal advance of the 
dictatorship of the proletariat and Soviet power, when great 
masses of the working and exploited people of Russia were 
drawn to the side of Soviet power definitely and irrevo¬ 
cably—this period constituted the final and highest point of 
development of the Russian revolution, which had been 
progressing all this time, apparently, independently of 
world imperialism. That was the reason why a country 
which was extremely backward and was the most prepared 
for the revolution by the experience of 1905 was able to 
promote one class after another to power rapidly, easily 
and systematically, getting rid of various political align¬ 
ments until at last that political structure was reached 
which was the last word, not only in the Russian revolution, 
but also in the West-European workers’ revolutions, for 
Soviet power has been consolidated in Russia and has won 
the absolute sympathy of the working and exploited people 
because it has destroyed the old state apparatus that was 
an instrument of oppression and has laid the foundation 
of a state of a new and higher form of which the Paris 
Commune was the prototype. The Commune destroyed the 
old state machine and replaced it by the armed force of 
the masses themselves, replaced bourgeois parliamentary 
democracy by the democracy of the working people, which 
excluded the exploiters and systematically suppressed their 

That is what the Russian revolution did in this period 
and that is why a small vanguard of the Russian revolution 
is under the impression that this rapid triumphal advance 
can be expected to continue in further victory. That is 
precisely their mistake because the period when the Rus¬ 
sian revolution was developing, passing state power in 
Russia from one class to another and getting rid of class 
compromise within the bounds of Russia alone—this period 
was able to exist historically only because the predatory 
giants of world imperialism were temporarily halted in their 



advance against Soviet power. A revolution that overthrew 
the monarchy in a few days, exhausted all possiblities of 
compromise with the bourgeoisie in a few months and 
overcame all the resistance by the bourgeoisie in a civil 
war of a few weeks, this revolution, the revolution of a 
socialist republic, could live side by side with the imperial¬ 
ist powers, among the international plunderers, the wild 
beasts of international imperialism, only so long as the 
bourgeoisie, locked in mortal struggle with each other, were 
paralysed in their offensive against Russia. 

And then began the period that we feel so keenly and 
see before our eyes, the period of disastrous defeats and 
severe trials for the Russian revolution, the period in which 
the swift, direct and open offensive against the enemies 
of the revolution is over while in its place we are experienc¬ 
ing disastrous defeats and have to retreat before forces 
that are immeasurably greater than ours, before the forces 
of international imperialism and finance capital, before the 
military might that the entire bourgeoisie with its modern 
weapons and its organisation has mustered against us in 
the interests of plunder, oppression and the strangling of 
small nations; we had to think of bringing our forces up 
to their level; we had to face a task of tremendous difficulty, 
that of direct combat with enemies that differed from 
Romanov and Kerensky who could not be taken seriously; 
we had to meet the forces of the international imperialist 
bourgeoisie, all its military might, we had to stand face to 
face with the world plunderers. In view of the delay in 
getting help from the international socialist proletariat we 
naturally had to take upon ourselves a conflict with these 
forces and we suffered a disastrous defeat. 

And this epoch is one of disastrous defeats, an epoch of 
retreat, an epoch in which we must save at least a small 
part of our position by retreating before imperialism, by 
awaiting the time when there will be changes in the world 
situation in general, when the forces of the European 
proletariat arrive, the forces that exist and are maturing 
but which have not been able to deal with their enemy as 
easily as we did with ours; it would be a very great illusion, 
a very great mistake, to forget that it was easy for the Rus¬ 
sian revolution to begin but difficult for it to take further 


steps. This was inevitable because we had to begin with 
the most backward and most rotten political system. The 
European revolution will have to begin against the bour¬ 
geoisie, against a much more serious enemy and under im¬ 
measurably more difficult conditions. It will be much more 
difficult for the European revolution to begin. We see that 
it is immeasurably more difficult to make the first breach 
in the system that is holding back the revolution. It will 
be much easier for the European revolution to advance to 
the second and third stages. Things cannot be different 
with the alignment of forces of the revolutionary and reac¬ 
tionary classes that at present obtains in the world. This 
is the main turn in events that is always overlooked by 
people who view the present situation, the extremely 
serious position of the revolution, from the standpoint of 
their own feelings and their indignation, and not from the 
historical standpoint. Historical experience teaches us that 
always, in all revolutions, at a time when a revolution takes 
an abrupt turn from swift victory to severe defeats, there 
comes a period of pseudo-revolutionary phrase-making that 
invariably causes the greatest damage to the development 
of the revolution. And so, comrades, we shall be able to 
appraise our tactics correctly only when we set out to 
consider the turn in events that has hurled us back from 
swift, easy and complete victories to grave defeats. This is 
an extremely difficult and extremely serious question aris¬ 
ing out of the present turning-point in the development of 
the revolution, the turn from easy victories within the coun¬ 
try to exceptionally heavy defeats without; it is also a turn- 
ingrpoint in the entire world revolution, a turn from the 
period of propaganda and agitation on the part of the 
Russian revolution, with imperialism biding its time, to the 
offensive of imperialism against Soviet power, and this turn 
puts a particularly difficult and acute question before the 
international movement in Western Europe. If we are not 
to ignore this historical aspect of the situation we must try 
to understand how Russia’s basic interests in the question 
of the present harsh, or obscene, as it is called, peace took 

When arguing against those who refused to see the need 
to accept that peace, I have often come up against the 



statement that the idea of concluding the peace expresses 
only the interests of the exhausted peasant masses, the 
declassed soldiers, and so on and so forth. Whenever I hear 
such statements, whenever I hear such things referred to, 

I am always amazed that the class aspect of national de¬ 
velopment is forgotten by comrades—people who limit 
themselves exclusively to seeking explanations. As though 
the Party of the proletariat on taking power had not counted 
on the alliance of the proletariat and the semi-proletariat, 
i.e., the poor peasantry (i.e., the majority of the peasantry 
of Russia), had not known that only such an alliance would 
be able to hand the government of Russia over to the rev¬ 
olutionary power of the Soviets, the power of the majority, 
the real majority of the people, and that without this 
alliance it would be senseless to make any attempt to 
establish power, especially at difficult turning-points in 
history! As though we could now abandon this verity that 
was accepted by all of us and confine ourselves to a con¬ 
temptuous reference to the exhausted state of the peasantry 
and the declassed soldiers! With regard to the exhausted 
state of the peasantry and the declassed soldiers we must 
say that the country will offer resistance, and that the poor 
peasants will be able to offer resistance only in so far as 
those poor peasants are capable of directing their forces 
to the struggle. 

When we were about to take power in October it was 
obvious that events were inevitably leading up to it, that 
the turn towards Bolshevism in the Soviets indicated a turn 
throughout the country, and that the Bolsheviks must 
inevitably take power. When we, realising this, took power 
in October, we said to ourselves and to all the people, very 
clearly and unequivocally, that it was a transfer of power 
to the proletariat and the poor peasantry, that the proletar¬ 
iat knew the peasantry would support it—you know your¬ 
selves in what—in its active struggle for peace and its 
readiness to continue the fight against big finance capital. 
In this we are making no mistake, and nobody who sticks 
to the concept of class forces and class alignments can get 
away from the indisputable truth that we cannot ask a 
country of small peasants, a country that has given much 
for the European and world revolution, to carry on the 


struggle in a difficult situation, a most difficult situation, 
when help from the West-European proletariat has un¬ 
doubtedly been delayed, although there is no doubt that it 
is coming to us, as the facts, the strikes, etc., show. That 
is why I say that such references to the exhaustion of the 
peasant masses, etc., are made by people who simply have 
no arguments, who are absolutely helpless when they 
seek such arguments, and who are quite unable to grasp 
class relations as a whole, in their entirety, the relations 
of the revolution of the proletariat and of the peasant 
masses; it is only when, at every sharp turn in history, we 
appraise the class relations as a whole, the relations of all 
classes, and do not select individual examples and individ¬ 
ual cases, that we feel ourselves firmly supported by an 
analysis of probable facts. I realise full well that the Rus¬ 
sian bourgeoisie are today urging us on towards a rev¬ 
olutionary war when it is absolutely impossible for us to 
have such a war. This is essential to the class interests of 
the bourgeoisie. 

When they shout about an obscene peace and do not say 
a word about who brought the army to its present state, I 
realise quite well that it is the bourgeoisie together with the 
Dyelo Naroda people, the Tsereteli and Chernov Menshe¬ 
viks and their yes-men ( applause )—I know quite well that 
it is the bourgeoisie who are bawling for a revolutionary 
war. Their class interests demand it, their anxietv to see 
Soviet power make a false move demands it. It is not sur¬ 
prising that this comes from people who, on the one hand, 
fill the pages of their newspapers with counter-revolution¬ 
ary scribbling. . . . ( Voices : “They’ve all been suppressed!”) 
Unfortunately, not yet all of them, but we will close them 
all down, f Applause.) I should like to see the proletariat 
that would allow the counter-revolutionaries, those who 
support the bourgeoisie and collaborate with them, to con¬ 
tinue using the monopoly of wealth to drug the people with 
their bourgeois opium. There is no such proletariat. ( Ap¬ 
plause .) 

I realise, of course, that nothing but shouts, howls and 
screams about an obscene peace comes from those publi¬ 
cations, I realise full well that the people who favour this 
revolutionary war—from the Constitutional-Democrats to 



the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries—are those who meet the 
Germans as they advance and say triumphantly, here come 
the Germans, and then allow their officers, again wearing 
their badges of rank, to strut about in the places that have 
been occupied by the German imperialist invaders. Oh no, 
I am not a bit surprised at these bourgeois, these collabo¬ 
rators, preaching a revolutionary war. They want Soviet 
power to be caught in a trap. They have shown their hand, 
these bourgeois and collaborators. We have seen them and 
can still see live specimens, we know that in the Ukraine 
there are Ukrainian Kerenskys, Ukrainian Chernovs and 
Ukrainian Tseretelis—there they are, the Vinnichenkos. 
Those gentlemen, the Ukrainian Kerenskys, Chernovs and 
Tseretelis, concealed from the people the peace they con¬ 
cluded with the German imperialists, and today they are 
trying to overthrow Soviet power in the Ukraine with the 
help of German bayonets. That is what those bourgeois and 
those collaborators and their accomplices have done [ap¬ 
plause). That is what they have done, those Ukrainian bour¬ 
geois and collaborators, whose example you have before 
your very eyes; they concealed and are still concealing their 
secret treaties from the people, they are attacking Soviet 
power with the aid of German bayonets. That is what the 
Russian bourgeoisie want, that is where the bourgeois yes- 
men are trying to push Soviet power, wittingly or unwit¬ 
tingly; they know that under no circumstances can Soviet 
power accept an imperialist war against the might of 
imperialism at the present moment. That is why it is only 
in this international situation, in this general class situa¬ 
tion, that we can understand the full depth of the mistake 
of those who, like the Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party, 
have allowed themselves to be carried away by a theory 
that is common to the history of all revolutions at moments 
of difficulty, a theory that is half desperation and half 
empty phrases; according to this theory, instead of taking 
a sober view of reality and appraising the tasks of the rev¬ 
olution in respect of the internal and external enemies from 
the standpoint of class forces, you are asked to settle a 
serious and very grave problem only under the impact of 
your feelings, merely from the standpoint of feelings. The 
peace is incredibly harsh and shameful. In my statements 



and speeches I have had occasion to liken it to the Peace 
of Tilsit that the conqueror Napoleon forced on the Prus¬ 
sian and German peoples after a series of heavy defeats. 
Yes, the peace is a grave defeat and is humiliating to Soviet 
power, but if you, proceeding from this, and limiting your¬ 
selves to it, appeal to feelings and arouse discontent in an 
attempt to settle a gigantic historical problem, you will 
get into that ridiculous and pitiful situation into which the 
Socialist-Revolutionary Party once got itself (applause), 
when in 1907, in a situation that was somewhat similar in 
certain respects, that party also appealed to the feelings 
of revolutionaries, when, after our revolution had suffered 
heavy defeats in 1906 and 1907, Stolypin presented us with 
the laws on the Third Duma—shameful and extremely dif¬ 
ficult conditions of work in one of the rottenest of repre¬ 
sentative institutions—when our Party, after brief internal 
wavering (the wavering on the question was greater than 
it is today), decided the question in this way: we have no 
right to give way to feelings; no matter how great our 
indignation and dissatisfaction with the shameful Third 
Duma, we have to recognise that it was not chance but 
the historical necessity of a developing class struggle which 
lacked the strength to continue but which could muster that 
strength even in the shameful conditions that have been 
imposed. We proved to be right. Those who tried to attract 
people by revolutionary phrases, by appeals to justice (since 
they were expressing feelings that were trebly legitimate) — 
those people were given a lesson that will not be forgotten 
by any revolutionary capable of thought and possessing 

Revolutions do not go smoothly enough to ensure rapid 
and easy progress. There has never been any great rev¬ 
olution, even on a national scale, that did not experience 
a hard period of defeat, and the attitude of a revolutionary 
towards the serious question of mass movements, of devel¬ 
oping revolutions, must not be one of declaring the peace 
obscene and humiliating and then saying he cannot recon¬ 
cile himself to it; it is not sufficient to quote agitational 
phrases, to shower reproaches on us because of the peace 
—that is the known ABC of the revolution, the experience 
of all revolutions. Our experience since 1905—and if we 



are rich in anything, if for some reason or other the Rus¬ 
sian working class and poor peasantry have taken upon 
themselves the most difficult and honourable task of be¬ 
ginning the world socialist revolution, it is because the Rus¬ 
sian people have been able, owing to specific historical 
conditions, to make two great revolutions at the beginning 
of the twentieth century—we have to learn from the 
experience of those revolutions, we have to learn to under¬ 
stand that only by studying the changes in the class con¬ 
nections between one country and another is it possible 
to prove definitely that we are in no condition to accept 
battle at the moment; we have to take this into consider¬ 
ation and say to ourselves, whatever respite we may obtain, 
no matter how unstable, no matter how brief, harsh and 
humiliating the peace may be, it is better than war, because 
it gives the masses a breathing-space, because it provides 
us with an opportunity to correct what the bourgeoisie have 
done, the bourgeoisie that are shouting wherever they have 
an opportunity to shout, especially under the protection 
of the Germans in the occupied regions (applause). 

The bourgeoisie are shouting that the Bolsheviks are 
responsible for the disintegration of the army, that there 
is no army and the Bolsheviks are to blame for it; but let 
us look at the past, comrades, let us look, firstly, at the 
development of our revolution. Do you not know that 
desertion and the disintegration of our army began long 
before the revolution, in 1916. and that everybody who has 
seen the armv will have to admit that? And what did our 
bourgeoisie do to prevent it? Is it not clear that the only 
chance for salvation from the imperialists at that time was 
in their hands, that a chance presented itself in March 
and April, when Soviet organisations could have taken 
power by a simple motion of the hand against the bour¬ 
geoisie. And if the Soviets had then taken power, if the 
bourgeois and petty-bourgeois intelligentsia, together with 
the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, instead of 
helping Kerensky deceive the people, conceal the secret 
treaties and lead the army to an offensive—if they had then 
come to the aid of the army, had supplied it with muni¬ 
tions and rations and had compelled the bourgeoisie to 
help the fatherland—not the fatherland of the hucksters. 


not the fatherland of treaties that help to slaughter the 
people [applause)— and had themselves participated; if the 
Soviets had forced the bourgeoisie to help the fatherland 
of the workers and all working people, and had helped the 
ragged, barefoot and hungry army, then, perhaps, we 
should have had a period of ten months, long enough to 
rest the army and gain unanimous support for it,- so that 
without the army having moved one step from the front a 
general, democratic peace could have been proposed, the 
secret treaties could have been torn up and the line held 
without retreating a single step. There would then have 
been a chanoe of peace, which the workers and peasants 
would have willingly supported and approved. That would 
have been the tactics of the defence of the fatherland, not 
the fatherland of the Romanovs, Kerenskys, or Chernovs, 
a fatherland with secret treaties, a fatherland of the treach¬ 
erous bourgeoisie—not that fatherland but the father- 
land of the working people. That is who is responsible for 
having made the transition from war to revolution and from 
the Russian revolution to world socialism a period of severe 
trials. That is why such proposals as a revolutionary war 
sound like empty phrases, when we know that we have no 
army, when we know that it would have been impossible 
to hold the army, and people with a knowledge of the 
situation could not help seeing that our decree on demob¬ 
ilisation was not an invention but the result of obvious 
necessity, because it would have been impossible to hold 
the army. The army could not have been held. That officer, 
not a Bolshevik, was right who, before the October Rev¬ 
olution, said that the army could not and would not fight. 27 
This is what has come of months of bargaining with the 
bourgeoisie and of all the speeches about the need to con¬ 
tinue the war; no matter what noble sentiments on the part 
of many revolutionaries, or of few revolutionaries, may 
have dictated them, they proved to be empty revolutionary 
phrases that played into the hands of international im¬ 
perialism so that it could plunder as much again and more, 
just as it has been doing since our tactical or diplomatic 
error, since the time we did not sign the Brest Treaty. 
When we told those who opposed concluding peace that if 
we had a respite of any length they would realise that the 



recuperation of the army and the interests of the working 
people were more important than anything else, and that 
peace should have been concluded for this reason—they 
maintained that there could be no respite. 

But our revolution differs from all previous revolutions 
in having aroused among the masses a desire to build and 
create, and the working people in the most out-of-the-way 
villages, people humiliated, downtrodden and oppressed by 
tsars, landowners, and bourgeoisie, have been aroused; this 
period of the revolution is being accomplished only now 
when the rural revolution is under way, the revolution that 
is building a new way of life. And for the sake of this res¬ 
pite, no matter how brief and how small it may be, it was 
our duty to sign the treaty, since we place the interests of 
the working people above the interests of the bourgeois 
warriors who rattle their sabres and call on us to fight. 
That is what the revolution teaches. The revolution teaches 
that when we make diplomatic mistakes, when we assume 
that the German workers will come to our aid tomorrow, 
when we hope that Liebknecht will be victorious im¬ 
mediately (and we know that one way or another Lieb¬ 
knecht will win, that is inevitable in the development of 
the working-class movement [applause ])|, it means that, 
when used unthinkingly, the revolutionary slogans of the 
difficult socialist movement turn into empty phrases. There 
is not a single representative of the working people, there 
is not a single honest worker who would refuse to make 
.the greatest sacrifice to help the socialist movement of Ger¬ 
many, because during all this time at the front he has 
learned to distinguish between the German imperialists and 
the soldiers tormented by German discipline, most of whom 
are in sympathy with us. That is why I say that the Rus¬ 
sian revolution has corrected our mistake in practice, has 
corrected it by giving us the respite. It is very probable 
that it will be an extremely brief one, but we have the 
chance of at least a brief respite in which the army, worn 
out and hungry as it is, will become conscious of the fact 
that it has been given an opportunity to recuperate. It is 
clear to us that the period of the old imperialist wars is 
over and we are threatened with the further horrors of'an 
outbreak of fresh wars, but there have been such periods 



of war in many historical epochs, and they have always be¬ 
come most fierce towards the end. This must be understood, 
not only at meetings in Petrograd and Moscow; it must be 
understood by the many tens of millions in the countryside; 
and the more enlightened part of the rural population, those 
returning from the front, those who have experienced the 
horrors of war, must help them understand it; the huge 
masses of peasants and workers must become convinced of 
the necessity for a revolutionary front—they will then say 
we have acted correctly. 

They tell us we have betrayed the Ukraine and Finland 
—what disgrace! But the situation that has arisen is such 
that we are cut off from Finland, with whom we concluded 
an unwritten treaty before the revolution and have now 
concluded a formal treaty. They say we are surrendering 
the Ukraine, which Chernov, Kerensky and Tsereteli are 
going to ruin; they say we are traitors, we have betrayed 
the Ukraine! I say: Comrades, I’ve seen enough of the his¬ 
tory of revolution not to be embarrassed by the hostile 
glances and shouts of people who give way to their feel¬ 
ings and are incapable of clear judgement. I will give you 
a simple example. Suppose that two friends are out walk¬ 
ing at night and they are attacked by ten men. If the scoun¬ 
drels isolate one of them, what is the other to do? He can¬ 
not render assistance, and if he runs away is he a traitor?* 
And suppose that it is not a matter of individuals or of 
spheres in which questions of direct feelings are being 
settled, but of five armies, each a hundred-thousand strong, 
that surround an army of two hundred thousand, and that 
there is another army that should come to the embattled 
army’s assistance. But if that second army knows that it is 
certain to fall into a trap, it should withdraw; it must with¬ 
draw, even if the retreat has to be covered by the con¬ 
clusion of an obscene, foul peace—curse as much as you 
like, but it is necessary to conclude the peace. There is no 
reason for considering the feelings of a duelist who draws 
his sword and says that he must die because he is being 

* There is probably an error in the stenographic record, which 
should read: “He cannot but render assistance, and if he runs away 
is he not a traitor?” 



compelled to conclude a humiliating peace. But we all know 
that, however we may decide, we have no army, and no 
gestures will save us from the necessity of withdrawing to 
gain time and enable our army to recuperate; everybody 
who looks reality in the face and does not deceive himself 
with revolutionary phrase-making will agree with this. 
Anyone who faces the facts without blinding himself with 
phrase-making and arrogance must know this. 

If we know this, it is our revolutionary duty to conclude 
even this harsh, super-harsh and rapacious treaty, for by 
so doing we shall reach a better position for ourselves and 
for our allies. Did we actually lose anything by concluding 
the peace treaty of March 3? Anyone who wants to look at 
things from the point of view of mass relations, and not 
from that of the aristocratic duelist, will realise that 
without an army, or having only the sick remnant of an 
army, it would be self-deception, it would be the greatest 
deception of the people, to accept battle and call it a rev¬ 
olutionary war. It is our duty to tell the people the truth; 
yes, the peace is a harsh one. The Ukraine and Finland 
are perishing but we must accept this peace and all class¬ 
conscious working people in Russia will accept it because 
they know the unvarnished truth, they know the meaning 
of war, they know that to stake everything on one card on 
the assumption that the German revolution will begin im¬ 
mediately is self-deception. By concluding peace we have 
obtained what we gave our Finnish friends—a respite, help 
and not destruction. 

I know of examples from history of much more rapacious 
peace treaties having been concluded, treaties that sur¬ 
rendered viable nations to the mercy of the conqueror. Let 
us compare our peace to the Peace of Tilsit; the Peace of 
Tilsit was enforced on Prussia and Germany by a con¬ 
queror. That peace was so harsh that not only were all the 
capital cities of all the German states seized, not only were 
the Prussians thrown back to Tilsit, which would be the 
same as throwing us back to Omsk or Tomsk; not only 
that—the worst of all was that Napoleon compelled the 
conquered peoples to supply him with auxiliary troops 
for his wars; but nevertheless, when the situation became 
such that the German peoples had to withstand the attacks 



of the conqueror, when the epoch of revolutionary wars in 
France gave place to the epoch of imperialist wars of con¬ 
quest, then came the revelation which those people who 
wax enthusiastic over empty phrases do not want to 
understand, those people, that is, who picture the conclu¬ 
sion of peace as a downfall. This psychology is under¬ 
standable in an aristocratic duelist but not in a worker or 
peasant. The latter has been through the hard school of 
war and has learned to calculate. There have been even 
greater trials, and nations even more backward have come 
through them. Harsher peace treaties have been conclud¬ 
ed, the Germans concluded one in an epoch when they 
had no army, or when their army was sick like ours. They 
concluded a very harsh peace with Napoleon. But that 
peace was not the downfall of Germany—on the contrary, 
it was the turning-point, national defence, renewal. We 
are on the eve of just such a turning-point and are expe¬ 
riencing analogous conditions. We must look truth in the 
face and banish all empty phrases and declarations. We 
must say. peace, if it is necessary, must be concluded. The 
war of liberation, the class war, the war of the people will 
take the place of the Napoleonic wars. The system of the 
Napoleonic wars will change, war will give place to peace 
and peace to war, and from every harsh peace there has 
always emerged a more extensive preparation for war. The 
harshest of peace treaties—the Peace of Tilsit—has gone 
down in history as a turning-point towards the time when 
the German people began to swing round; when they 
retreated to Tilsit, to Russia, they were actually gaining 
time, waiting for the international situation that had, at 
one time, favoured Napoleon—he was another plunderer 
like Hohenzollern or Hindenburg—waiting until the situa¬ 
tion changed, until the mentality of the German people, 
tormented by decades of Napoleonic wars and defeats, had 
recuperated and the German people were resuscitated. 
That is what history teaches us, that is why all despair 
and empty phrases are criminal, that is why everyone 
will say yes, the old imperialist wars are ending—an his¬ 
torical turning-point has come. 

Our revolution has been one long triumph since October, 
and now the lengthy times of hardship have come, we do 



not know for how long, but we do know that it will be a 
long and difficult period of defeats and retreats, because 
the alignment of forces is what it is, because by retreat¬ 
ing we shall give the people a chance to recuperate. We 
shall make it possible for every worker and peasant to 
realise the truth that will enable him to understand that 
new wars waged by the imperialist plunderers against the 
oppressed peoples are beginning, and every worker and 
peasant will realise that we must rise in defence of the 
fatherland, because we have been defencists since October. 
Since October 25 we have said openly that we stand for 
the defence of the fatherland, because we have a fatherland, 
the one from which we have driven the Kerenskys and 
Chernovs, because we have torn up the secret treaties, 
because we have crushed the bourgeoisie—badly so far, but 
we shall learn to do it better. 

Comrades, there is another important difference between 
the condition of the German people and of the Russian 
people who have suffered a severe defeat at the hands of 
the German invaders—there is a tremendous difference 
that must be mentioned, although I have already touched 
upon it briefly in the preceding part of my speech. Com¬ 
rades, when the German people, over a hundred years ago, 
entered a period of the most cruel wars of conquest, a 
period when they had to retreat and conclude one shame¬ 
ful treaty after another before they were awakened—at 
that time the German people were weak and backward, 
just that and nothing more. They had against them not 
only the military forces and the might of the conqueror 
Napoleon, they had against them a country that was far 
above Germany in the revolutionary and political sense 
and in every other respect, a country that had risen far 
above all others, a country that had reached the top. That 
country was far above the people who were languishing 
in subjection to the imperialists and landowners. A people 
that, I repeat, had been nothing but a weak and backward 
people, managed to learn from its bitter lessons and to 
raise itself up. We are in a better position; we are not 
merely a weak and backward people, we are the people 
who have been able—not because of any special services 
or of historical predestination, but because of a definite 



conjunction of historical circumstances—who have been 
able to accept the honour of raising the banner of the 
international socialist revolution. (Applause.) 

I am well aware, comrades, that the banner is in weak 
hands, I have said that outright several times already, and 
the workers of the most backward country will not be 
able to hold that banner unless the workers of all advanced 
countries come to their aid. The socialist reforms that we 
have accomplished are far from perfect, they are weak 
and insufficient; they will serve as a guide to the advanced 
West-European workers who will say to themselves, “The 
Russians haven’t made a very good beginning on the job 
that has to be done”; the important thing is that our 
people are not merely a weak and backward people as 
compared with the Germans, they are the people who have 
raised the banner of revolution. Although the bourgeoisie 
of any country you like are filling the columns of their 
press with slander of the Bolsheviks, although the voice of 
the imperialist press in France, Britain, Germany, etc., 
curses the Bolsheviks in unison, you will not find a meeting 
of workers in any country at which the names and slogans 
of our socialist government give rise to bursts of indig¬ 
nation (Voice: “That’s a lie!”). No, it is not, it is the truth, 
and anyone who has been in Germany, Austria, Switzer¬ 
land or America during the past few months will tell you 
it is the truth and not a lie, that the names and slogans of 
representatives of Soviet power in Russia are greeted with 
the greatest enthusiasm by the workers and that, despite 
all the lies of the bourgeoisie of Germany, France, etc., the 
working-class masses have realised that no matter how 
weak we may be, their cause is being served here in Rus¬ 
sia. Yes, our people have a very heavy burden to bear, 
the burden they have themselves taken up; but a people 
that has been able to establish Soviet power cannot perish. 
Again I repeat—there is not a single politically conscious 
socialist, not a single worker among those who think over 
the history of the revolution, who can dispute the fact that 
Soviet power—despite all the defects that I know only too 
well and fully appreciate—is the highest type of state, the 
direct successor to the Paris Commune. It has ascended a 
step higher than the other European revolutions so that 



we are not experiencing the difficult conditions that the 
German people experienced a hundred years ago; the 
change in the balance of forces among the plunderers, 
taking advantage of the conflict and satisfying the demands 
of plunderer Napoleon, plunderer Alexander I and the 
plundering British monarchy—that was the only thing left, 
the one chance, for the German people, oppressed by 
feudalism; and yet the German people did not perish from 
the Peace of Tilsit. But we, I say again, have better 
conditions, we have a powerful ally in all West-European 
countries, the international socialist proletariat, the prole¬ 
tariat that is on our side no matter what our enemies may 
say. (Applause.) True, it is not easy for that ally to raise 
his voice, any more than it was easy for us until the end 
of February 1917. That ally is living in the underground, 
under conditions of the military prison into which all 
imperialist countries have been turned, but he knows us 
and understands our cause; it is difficult for him to come 
to our aid, and Soviet troops, therefore, will need much 
time and patience and will have to go through many trials 
before the time comes when he will aid us—we shall use 
even the slightest chance of procrastination, for time is 
working on our side. Our cause is gaining strength, the 
forces of the imperialists are weakening, and no matter 
what trials and defeats may emerge from the “Tilsit” 
peace, we are beginning the tactics of withdrawal and, 
once more I say it, there is no doubt the politically-con- 
scious proletariat and, likewise, the politically-conscious 
peasants are on our side, and we shall be able not only to 
make heroic attacks, but also to make a heroic retreat 
and we shall wait until the international socialist prole¬ 
tariat comes to our aid and shall then begin a second 
socialist revolution that will be world-wide in its scope. 

Prauda (Sotsial-Demokrat) 
Nos. 47 and 48, March 16 
and 17, 1918 

Collected Works, Vol. 27, 
pp. 172-90 




The Congress confirms (ratifies) the peace treaty signed 
by our representatives at Brest-Litovsk on March 3, 1918. 

The Congress recognises as correct the actions of the 
Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s 
Commissars in deciding to conclude the present incredibly 
harsh, rapacious and humiliating peace in view of our 
having no army and of the extreme war weariness of the 
people, who in their distress have received no support from 
the bourgeoisie and bourgeois intelligentsia, but have seen 
that distress be made use of for selfish class purposes. 

The Congress also recognises the undoubted correctness 
of the actions of the peace delegation that refused to enter 
into a detailed discussion on the German peace terms, 
because those terms were imposed on us in the form of 
an obvious ultimatum and by undisguised force. 

The Congress most insistently urges upon all workers, 
soldiers and peasants, all the working and oppressed 
masses, the main, immediate and most pressing task of the 
moment—the improvement of the discipline and self-dis¬ 
cipline of the working people; the creation throughout 
the country of strong, well-founded organisations that 
cover, as far as possible, all production and distribution; 
a ruthless struggle against the chaos, disorganisation and 
economic ruin which are historically inevitable as the 
legacy of a most agonising war, but which are, at the 
same time, the main obstacle to the complete victory of 

5 * 



socialism and the strengthening of the foundations of 
socialist society. 

Today, after the October Revolution, after the over¬ 
throw of the political power of the bourgeoisie in Russia, 
after our denunciation and publication of all secret 
imperialist treaties, after the cancellation of the foreign 
loans, after the workers’ and peasants’ government has 
proposed a just peace to all peoples without exception, 
Russia, having escaped from the clutches of the imperial¬ 
ist war, has the right to announce that she is not a partic¬ 
ipant in the plunder and suppression of other countries. 

The Russian Soviet Federative Republic, having unani¬ 
mously condemned predatory wars, from now on deems it 
its right and its duty to defend the socialist fatherland 
against all possible attacks by any of the imperialist 

The Congress therefore deems it the unconditional duty 
of all working people to muster all forces to re-establish 
and improve the defence potential of our country, to 
re-establish its military strength on the basis of a socialist 
militia and the universal military training of all adoles¬ 
cents and adults of both sexes. 

The Congress expresses its absolute confidence that 
Soviet power, which has valiantly fulfilled all the obliga¬ 
tions of the international solidarity of the workers of all 
countries in their struggle for socialism against the yoke 
of capital, will in future do everything possible to promote 
the international socialist movement, to secure and shorten 
the road leading mankind to deliverance from the yoke of 
capital and from wage slavery, to the creation of a social¬ 
ist society and to an enduring, just peace between the 

The Congress is firmly convinced that the international 
workers’ revolution is not far away, that the full victory 
of the socialist proletariat is assured despite the fact that 
the imperialists of all countries do not hesitate to use the 
most brutal means for the suppression of the socialist 

Pravda (Sotsial-Demokrat) 
No. 47, March 16, 1918 

Collected Wor/cs, Vol. 27, 

pp. 200-01 




As a political magnitude, or as a group claiming to play 
a political role, the “Left Communist” group has presented 
its “Theses on the Present Situation”. 28 It is a good Marx¬ 
ist custom to give a coherent and complete exposition of 
the principles underlying one’s views and tactics. And this 
good Marxist custom has helped to reveal the mistake com 
mitted by our “Lefts”, because the mere attempt to argue 
and not to declaim exposes the unsoundness of their 

The first thing that strikes one is the abundance of al¬ 
lusions, hints and evasions with regard to the old question 
of whether it was right to conclude the Brest Treaty. The 
“Lefts” dare not put the question in a straightforward 
manner. They flounder about in a comical fashion, pile 
argument on argument, fish for reasons, plead that “on 
the one hand” it may be so, but “on the other hand” it 
may not, their thoughts Zander over all and sundry sub¬ 
jects, they try all the time not to see that they are defeat¬ 
ing themselves. The “Lefts” are very careful to quote the 
figures: twelve votes at the Party Congress against peace, 
twenty-eight votes in favour, but they discreetly refrain 
from mentioning that of the hundreds of votes cast at the 
meeting of the Bolshevik group of the Congress of Soviets 
they obtained less than one-tenth. They have invented a 



“theory” that the peace was carried by “the exhausted and 
declassed elements”, while it was opposed by “the workers 
and peasants of the southern regions, where there was 
greater vitality in economic life and the supply of bread 
was more assured”.... Can one do anything but laugh at 
this? There is not a word about the voting at the All- 
Ukraine Congress of Soviets in favour of peace, 29 nor about 
the social and class character of the typically petty-bour¬ 
geois and declassed political conglomeration in Russia who 
were opposed to peace (the Left Socialist-Revolutionary 
party). In an utterly childish manner by means of amusing 
“scientific” explanations, they try to conceal their own 
bankruptcy, to conceal the facts, the mere review of which 
would show that it was precisely the declassed, intellec¬ 
tual “cream” of the party, the elite, who opposed the peace 
with slogans couched in revolutionary petty-bourgeois 
phrases, that it was precisely the mass of workers and 
exploited peasants who carried the peace. 

Nevertheless, in spite of all the above-mentioned 
declarations and evasions of the “Lefts” on the question of 
war and peace, the plain and obvious truth manages to 
come to light. The authors of the theses are compelled to 
admit that “the conclusion of peace has for the time being 
weakened the imperialists’ attempts to make a deal on a 
world scale” (this is inaccurately formulated by the 
“Lefts”, but this is not the place to deal with inaccura¬ 
cies). “The conclusion of peace has already caused the 
conflict between the imperialist powers to become more 

Now this is a fact. Here is something that has decisive 
significance. That is why those who opposed the conclu¬ 
sion of peace were unwittingly playthings in the hands of 
the imperialists and fell into the trap laid for them by 
the imperialists. For, until the world socialist revolution 
breaks out, until it embraces several countries and is 
strong enough to overcome international imperialism , it 
is the direct duty of the socialists who have been victo¬ 
rious in one country (especially a backward one) not to 
accept battle against the giants of imperialism. Their duty 
is to try to avoid battle, to wait until the conflicts between 
the imperialists weaken them even more, and bring the 


revolution in other countries even nearer. Our “Lefts” 
did not understand this simple truth in January, February 
and March. Even now they are afraid of admitting it 
openly. But it comes to light through all their confused 
reasoning like “on the one hand it must be confessed, on 
the other hand one must admit”. 

“During the coming spring and summer,” the “Lefts” 
write in their theses, “the collapse of the imperialist system 
must begin. In the event of a victory for German imperial¬ 
ism in the present phase of the war this collapse can only 
be postponed, but it will then express itself in even more 
acute forms.” 

This formulation is even more childishly inaccurate 
despite its authors’ playing at science. It is natural for 
children to “understand” science to mean something that 
can determine in what year, spring, summer, autumn or 
winter the “collapse must begin”. 

These are ridiculous, vain attempts to ascertain what 
cannot be ascertained. No serious politician will ever say 
when this or that collapse of a “system” “must begin” (the 
more so that the collapse of the system has already begun, 
and it is now a question of the moment when the outbreak 
of revolution in particular countries will begin). But an 
indisputable truth forces its wa}^ through this childishly 
helpless formulation, namely, the outbreaks of revolution 
in other, more advanced, countries are nearer now, a 
month since the beginning of the “respite” which followed 
the conclusion of peace, than they were a month or six 
weeks ago. 

What follows? 

It follows that the peace supporters were absolutely 
right, and their stand has been justified by the course of 
events. They were right in having drummed into the 
minds of the lovers of ostentation that one must be able 
to calculate the balance of forces and not help the impe¬ 
rialists by making the battle against socialism easier for 
them, when socialism is still weak, and when the chances 
of the battle are manifestly against socialism. 

Our “Left” Communists, however, who are also fond of 
calling themselves “proletarian” Communists, because 
there is very little that is proletarian about them and very 



much that is petty-bourgeois, are incapable of giving 
thought to the balance of forces, to calculating it. This is 
the core of Marxism and Marxist tactics, but they disdain¬ 
fully brush aside the “core” with “proud” phrases such 

. That the masses have become firmly imbued with an 
inactive ‘peace mentality’ is an objective fact of the 
political situation... .” 

What a gem! After three years of the most agonising 
and reactionary war, the people, thanks to Soviet power 
and its correct tactics, which never lapsed into mere phrase¬ 
making, have obtained a very, very brief, insecure and 
far from sufficient respite. The “Left” intellectual stri¬ 
plings, however, with the magnificence of a self-infatuated 
Narcissus, profoundly declare “that the masses (???) have 
become firmly imbued (!!!) with an inactive (!!!???) peace 
mentality”. Was I not right when I said at the Party 
Congress that the paper or journal of the “Lefts” ought 
to have been called not Kommunist but Szlachcic ?* 

Can a Communist with the slightest understanding of 
the mentality and the conditions of life of the toiling and 
exploited people descend to the point of view of the typical 
declassed petty-bourgeois intellectual with the mental 
outlook of a noble or szlachcic, which declares that a 
“peace mentality” is “inactive” and believes that the 
brandishing of a cardboard sword is “activity”? For our 
“Lefts” merely brandish a cardboard sword when they 
ignore the universally known fact, of which the war in the 
Ukraine has served as an additional proof, that peoples 
utterly exhausted by three years of butchery cannot go 
on fighting without a respite; and that war, if it cannot 
be organised on a national scale, very often creates a 
mentality of disintegration peculiar to petty proprietors, 
instead of the iron discipline of the proletariat. Every page 
of Kommunist 30 shows that our “Lefts” have no idea of 
iron proletarian discipline and how it is achieved, that 
they are thoroughly imbued with the mentality of the 
declassed petty-bourgeois intellectual. 

* See Collected Works , Vol. 27, p. 105.— Ed, 



Perhaps all these phrases of the “Lefts” about war can 
be put down to mere childish exuberance, which, more¬ 
over, concerns the past, and therefore has not a shadow 
of political significance? This is the argument some people 
put up in defence of our “Lefts”. But this is wrong. 
Anyone aspiring to political leadership must be able to 
think out political problems, and lack of this ability 
converts the “Lefts” into spineless preachers of a policy 
of vacillation, which objectively can have only one result, 
namely, by their vacillation the “Lefts” are hepling the 
imperialists to provoke the Russian Soviet Republic into 
a battle that will obviously be to its disadvantage, they 
are helping the imperialists to draw us into a snare. Listen 
to this: 

“... The Russian workers’ revolution cannot ‘save itself’ 
by abandoning the path of world revolution, by con¬ 
tinually avoiding battle and yielding to the pressure of in¬ 
ternational capital, by making concessions to ‘home 

“From this point of view it is necessary to adopt a 
determined class international policy which will unite 
international revolutionary propaganda by word and deed, 
and to strengthen the organic connection with internation¬ 
al socialism (and not with the international bourgeoi¬ 
sie) ... 

I shall deal separately with the thrusts at home policy 
contained in this passage. But examine this riot of phrase¬ 
making—and timidity in deeds—in the sphere of foreign 
policy. What tactics are binding at the present time on all 
who do not wish to be tools of imperialist provocation, and 
who do not wish to walk into the snare? Every politician 
must give a clear, straightforward reply to this question. 
Our Party’s reply is well known. At the present moment 
we must retreat and avoid battle. Our “Lefts” dare not 
contradict this and shoot into the air: “A determined class 
international policy”!! 

This is deceiving the people. If you want to fight now, 
say so openly. If you don’t wish to retreat now, say so 
openly. Otherwise, in your objective role, you are a tool 



of imperialist provocation. And your subjective “mental¬ 
ity” is that of a frenzied petty bourgeois who swaggers 
and blusters but senses perfectly well that the proletarian 
is right in retreating and in trying to retreat in an organ¬ 
ised way. He senses that the proletarian is right in arguing 
that because we lack strength we must retreat (before 
Western and Eastern imperialism) even as far as the 
Urals, for in this lies the only chance of playing for time 
while the revolution in the West matures, the revolution 
which is not “bound” (despite the twaddle of the “Lefts”) 
to begin in “spring or summer”, but which is coming 
nearer and becoming more probable every month. 

The “Lefts” have no policy of their “own”. They dare 
not declare that retreat at the present moment is unneces¬ 
sary. They twist and turn, play with words, substitute the 
question of “continuously” avoiding battle for the ques¬ 
tion of avoiding battle at the present moment. They blow 
soap bubbles such as “international revolutionary propa¬ 
ganda by deed”!! What does this mean? 

It can only mean one of two things: either it is mere 
Nozdryovism, or it means an offensive war to overthrow 
international imperialism. Such nonsense cannot be ut¬ 
tered openly, and that is why the “Left” Communists are 
obliged to take refuge from the derision of every politi¬ 
cally conscious proletarian behind high-sounding and 
empty phrases. They hope the inattentive reader will not 
notice the real meaning of the phrase “international rev¬ 
olutionary propaganda by deed”. 

The flaunting of high-sounding phrases is characteristic 
of the declassed petty-bourgeois intellectuals. The organ¬ 
ised proletarian Communists will certainly punish this 
“habit” with nothing less than derision and expulsion 
from all responsible posts. The people must be told the 
bitter truth simply, clearly and in a straightforward man¬ 
ner: it is possible, and even probable, that the war party 
will again get the upper hand in Germany (that is, an 
offensive against us will commence at once), and that 
Germany together with Japan, by official agreement or by 
tacit understanding, will partition and strangle us. Our 
tactics, if we do not want to listen to the ranters, must be 
to wait, procrastinate, avoid battle and retreat. If we shake 


off the ranters and “brace ourselves” by creating genuine¬ 
ly iron, genuinely proletarian, genuinely communist dis¬ 
cipline, we shall have a good chance of gaining many 
months. And then by retreating even, if the worst comes 
to the worst, to the Urals, we shall make it easier for our 
ally (the international proletariat) to come to our aid, 
to “catch up” (to use the language of sport) the distance 
between the beginning of revolutionary outbreaks and the 

These, and these alone, are the tactics which can in 
fact strengthen the connection between one temporarily 
isolated section of international socialism and the other 
sections. But to tell the truth, all that your arguments 
lead to, dear “Left Communists”, is the “strengthening of 
the organic connection” between one high-sounding phrase 
and another. A bad sort of “organic connection”, this! 

I shall enlighten you, my amiable friends, as to why 
such disaster overtook you. It is because you devote more 
effort to learning by heart and committing to memory 
revolutionary slogans than to thinking them out. This 
leads you to write “the defence of the socialist fatherland” 
in quotation marks, which are probably meant to signify 
your attempts at being ironical, but which really prove 
that you are muddleheads. You are accustomed to regard 
“defencism” as something base and despicable; you have 
learned this and committed it to memory. You have learn¬ 
ed this by heart so thoroughly that some of you have 
begun talking nonsense to the effect that defence of the 
fatherland in an imperialist epoch is impermissible (as a 
matter of fact, it is impermissible only in an imperialist, 
reactionary war, waged by the bourgeoisie). But you have 
not thought out why and when “defencism” is abominable. 

To recognise defence of the fatherland means recognis¬ 
ing the legitimacy and justice of war. Legitimacy and jus¬ 
tice from what point of view? Only from the point of 
view of the socialist proletariat and its struggle for its 
emancipation. We do not recognise any other point of 
view. If war is waged by the exploiting class with the object 
of strengthening its rule as a class, such a war is a crim¬ 
inal war, and “defencism” in such a war is a base be¬ 
trayal of socialism. If war is waged by the proletariat after 



it has defeated the bourgeoisie in its own country, and is 
waged with the object of strengthening and developing 
socialism, such a war is legitimate and “holy”. 

We have been “defencists” since October 25, 1917. I 
have said this more than once very definitely, and you 
dare not deny this. It is precisely in the interests of 
“strengthening the connection” with international social¬ 
ism that we are in duty bound to defend our socialist 
fatherland. Those who treat frivolously the defence of 
the country in which the proletariat has already achieved 
victory are the ones who destroy the connection with in¬ 
ternational socialism. When we were the representatives 
of an oppressed class we did not adopt a frivolous atti¬ 
tude towards defence of the fatherland in an imperialist 
war. We opposed such defence on principle. Now that we 
have become representatives of the ruling class, which 
has begun to organise socialism, we demand that every¬ 
body adopt a serious attitude towards defence of the 
country. And adopting a serious attitude towards defence 
of the country means thoroughly preparing for it, and 
strictly calculating the balance of forces. If our forces are 
obviously small, the best means of defence is retreat into 
the interior of the country (anyone who regards this as 
an artificial formula, made up to suit the needs of the 
moment, should read old Clausewitz, 31 one of the greatest 
authorities on military matters, concerning the lessons of 
history to be learned in this connection). The “Left Com¬ 
munists”, however, do not give the slightest indication that 
they understand the significance of the question of the 
balance of forces. 

When we were opposed to defencism on principle we 
were justified in holding up to ridicule those who wanted 
to “save” their fatherland, ostensibly in the interests of 
socialism. When we gained the right to be proletarian 
defencists the whole question radically changed. It has 
become our duty to calculate with the utmost accuracy the 
different forces involved, to weigh with the utmost care 
the chances of our ally (the international proletariat) being 
able to come to our aid in time. It is in the interest of 
capital to destroy its enemy (the revolutionary proletariat) 
bit by bit, before the workers in all countries have united 


(actually united, i.e., by beginning the revolution). It is 
in our interest to do all that is possible, to take advantage 
of the slightest opportunity to postpone, the decisive battle 
until the moment (or until after the moment) the revolu¬ 
tionary workers’ contingents have united in a single great 
international army. 

Published May 9, 10 and 11, Collected Works, Vol. 27, 

1918 in Pravda, Nos. 88, 89 pp. 325-33 

and 90 

Signed: N. Lenin 



To Colonel Robins 

May 14. 1918 

Dear Mr. Robins: 

I enclose the preliminary plan of our economic relations 
with America. 32 This preliminary plan was elaborated in 
the Council of Export Trade in our highest Council of 
National Economy. 

I hope this preliminarj 7 can be useful for you in your 
conversation with the American Foreign Office and Amer¬ 
ican Export Specialists. 

With best thanks, 

Yours truly, 

(signed) Lenin 

First published in 1920 in English 
in the book Russian-American 
Relations, March 1917-March 1920. 
Documents and Papers. New York, 
p. 204 

Published according 
to the text in 

JULY 15, 1918 33 

Comrades, our Soviet Republic cannot complain of any 
shortage of political crises and sudden political changes. 
No matter how simple, how elementary all the imperialist 
forces may be (and they cannot, of course, feel at ease side 
by side with the Socialist Soviet Republic), yet in a situa 
tion like the one we are passing through at present, with 
war still continuing on its former scale, the obviously 
dominant forces, the combination of the two imperialist 
groups continues to cause political crisis and the like. Con¬ 
cerning one such event, which either resembles or is a 
real political crisis, I have a communication to make to 

Yesterday, July 14, at 11 p.rn„, the People’s Commissar 
for Foreign Affairs was visited by the German Charge 
d 1 Affaires Doctor Ritzier, who informed him of the con¬ 
tents of a telegram he had just received from Berlin in 
which the German Government instructs him to request 
the Russian Government to allow a battalion of German 
soldiers in uniform to enter Moscow for the purpose of 
guarding the German Embassy and to allow these soldiers 
to be dispatched to Moscow at once. 

It was further stated in the message that the German 
Government was far from aiming at any sort of occupa¬ 

The People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, in agree¬ 
ment with the Chairman of the Council of People’s Com- 



missars, replied that the common people of Russia desire 
peace, that the Russian Government is prepared to give the 
German Embassy, Consulate and Commissions an entirely 
adequate and reliable guard consisting of its own troops, 
but that it cannot under any circumstances allow a foreign 
military unit to enter Moscow; it firmly hopes that the 
German Government, inspired by the same desire for 
peace, will not insist on its request. 

In fact, the request to the Russian Government is in 
complete contradiction to the statement made by the 
Imperial Chancellor in the Reichstag that the unfortunate 
murder of Count Mirbach would not lead to a worsening 
of relations between the two countries. It also contradicts 
the wish that we know has been expressed by leading 
commercial and industrial circles to set up and develop 
close economic relations to the benefit of both countries; 
it contradicts the negotiations that have been proceeding 
successfully. Numerous statements made to our represent¬ 
ative in Berlin concerning the political situation and the 
attitude to Russia also bear witness to this fact. 

We still have every reason to hope that a favourable 
solution to this unexoected incident will be found, but 
whenever tension arises in our international relations we 
consider it necessary to make known the facts openly and 
make the issues clear. 

I therefore consider it my duty to make the following 
Government statement: 

“The Government of the Soviet Republic was well aware 
when it concluded the Brest peace what an onerous task 
the workers and peasants of Russia had been obliged to 
undertake owing to the international situation that had 
developed. The will of the overwhelming majority at the 
Fourth Congress of Soviets was perfectly clear; the work¬ 
ing classes demanded peace because they needed a rest to 
be able to work, to organise the socialist economy, to re¬ 
cover and build up their strength, which had been under¬ 
mined by an agonising war. 

“In obedience to the will of the Congress the govern¬ 
ment is carrying out the harsh terms of the Brest Treaty 
to the letter, and of late our negotiations with the German 
Government concerning the exact amount of the payments 


to be made by us, and the forms of payment, which we 
have decided to discharge as soon as possible, have made 
considerable progress. 

“But while most scrupulously fulfilling the terms of 
Brest and upholding the will of the workers and peasants 
to have peace, the Soviet Government has never lost sight 
of the fact that there are limits beyond which even the 
most peace-loving masses of the working people will be 
compelled to rise, and will rise, as one man to defend their 
country with arms in hand. 

“The senseless and criminal folly of the Left Socialist- 
Revolutionaries has brought us to the brink of war. Our 
relations with the German Government were bound, 
despite our will, to become strained. We acknowledge the 
legitimacy of the German Government’s desire to strength¬ 
en the guard over its Embassy and we have gone a very 
long way to meet this desire. 

“But when we were informed of the German Govern¬ 
ment’s desire, which is not yet formulated as a categorical 
demand, that we should allow a battalion of armed Ger¬ 
man soldiers in uniform access to Moscow, we replied— 
and we now repeat that reply before the highest body of 
Soviet government of workers and peasants, before the 
All-Russia Central Executive Committee—that we could on 
no account and under no circumstances satisfy such a 
request, because this would be objectively the beginning 
of the occupation of Russia by foreign troops. 

“To this action we should be obliged to respond as we 
have responded to the Czechoslovak mutiny 34 and to the 
military operations of the British in the North, 35 namely— 
by expanded mobilisation, by the calling up of all adult 
workers and peasants for armed resistance, and for the 
destruction, in the event of a temporarily necessitated 
withdrawal, of absolutely every road and railway without 
exception, and also of stores, particularly food stores, so 
that they do not fall into the hands of the enemy. War 
would then be for us a fateful but absolute and uncondi¬ 
tional necessity, and this would be a revolutionary war 
waged by the workers and peasants of Russia shoulder 
to shoulder with the Soviet government till the last breath. 

“Like its foreign policy, the home policy of the Soviet 



government, in strict adherence to the decisions of the 
Fifth Congress of Soviets, 36 remains unchanged. The crim¬ 
inal folly of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, who have 
turned out to be henchmen of the whiteguards, the land- 
owners and the capitalists, will now that the clouds are 
gathering and the danger of war is increasing be even 
more criminal in the eyes of the people, and we shall fully 
and wholeheartedly support and carry out the ruthless 
punishment of the traitors who have been irrevocably con¬ 
demned by the will of the Fifth Congress of Soviets. If 
war, in spite of all our efforts, becomes a fact, we shall be 
unable to maintain a shadow of trust in the gang of Left 
Socialist-Revolutionary traitors, who are capable of 
thwarting the will of the Soviets, resorting to military 
betrayal and the like. We shall draw fresh strength for 
war from the merciless suppression both of the madly 
reckless (Left Socialist-Revolutionary) and the class¬ 
conscious (landowner, capitalist and kulak) exponents of 

“To the workers and peasants of all Rusisa this is our 
appeal: ‘Triple vigilance, caution and endurance, com¬ 
rades! Everyone must be at his post! Everyone must give 
his life if necessary to defend Soviet power, to defend the 
interests of the working people, the exploited, the poor, 
to defend socialism!’ ” 

Newspaper reports published on 
July 16, 1918 in Prauda No. 146 
and in Izvestia VTsIK No. 148 

Collected Works, Vol. 27, 
pp. 538-41 

Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia 
at the Time of Foreign Intervention 
and the Civil War 


JULY 29, 1918 37 

(Applause, which grows into ovation.) Comrades, this is 
not the first time we have pointed out in the Party press, 
in Soviet institutions and in our agitation among the people 
that the period up to the new harvest will be the most 
difficult, arduous and crucial phase in the socialist revolu¬ 
tion that has begun in Russia. Now, I think, we must say 
that this crucial situation has reached its climax. That is 
because it has now become perfectly clear once and for 
all who are the supporters of the imperialist world, of the 
imperialist countries, and who are the supporters of the 
Soviet Socialist Republic. It should first be said that from 
the military standpoint the position of the Soviet Repub¬ 
lic has only now become quite clear. Many at first regard¬ 
ed the Czechoslovak revolt as just one of the episodes in 
the chain of counter-revolutionary revolts. We did not suf 
ficiently appreciate the news in the papers about the par¬ 
ticipation in this revolt of British and French capital, of 
the British and French imperialists. We must now recall 
how events developed in Murmansk, among the Siberian 
troops and in the Kuban, how the British and French, in 
alliance with the Czechs, with the closest co-operation of 
the British bourgeoisie, endeavoured to overthrow the 
Soviets. All these facts now show that the Czechoslovak 
movement was one link in the chain long since forged by 
the systematic policy of the British and French imperial¬ 
ists to throttle Soviet Russia so as to again drag Russia 
into the ring of imperialist wars. This crisis must now be 
resolved by the broad mass of the people of Soviet Russia, 



for we are today faced not only with a struggle to preserve 
the Soviet Socialist Republic from the Czech attack, as one 
particular counter-revolutionary assault, and not even from 
counter-revolutionary assaults in general, but with a strug¬ 
gle against the onslaught of the whole imperialist world. 

I should like first of all to remind you of the fact that 
the direct participation of the British and French impe¬ 
rialists in the Czechoslovak revolt has long been established; 
I would remind you of an article printed by Prukopnik 
Svobody, the central organ of the Czechoslovak Commu¬ 
nist Party, on June 28 and reprinted in our press: 38 

“On March 7, the Department of the National Council received 
the first instalment from the French Consul to the amount of three 
million rubles. 

This money was handed to a certain Mr. Sip, an official of the 
Department of the National Council. 

On March 9, this same Sip received another two million and on 
March 25 another million, and on March 26, Mr. Bohumil-Cermak, 
Vice-President of the National Council, received one million; on 
April 3, Mr. Sip received another million. 

In all, from March 7 to April 4, the French Consul paid the 
Department of the National Council 8 million rubles. 

No dates are indicated for the following payments: Mr. Sip one 
million, Mr. Bohumil-Cermak one million and Mr. Sip another million. 

In addition, a sum of 188,000 rubles was paid to an unknown 
person. Total: 3,188,000 rubles. Together with the above-mentioned 
8 million we get a total of 11,188,000 rubles paid by the French 
Government to the Department of the National Council. 

From the British Consul the Department received £80,000. Thus, 
from March 7 to the date of action, the leaders of the Czech National 
Council received about 15 million rubles from the French and British 
governments, and for this sum the Czechoslovak army was sold to 
the French and British imperialists.” 

The majority of you, of course, read this report in the 
newspapers at the time it was published. We certainly 
never doubted that the imperialists and financial magnates 
of Britain and France would do their very utmost to 
overthrow the Soviet government and place every possible 
obstacle in its way. But at that time the picture was not 
yet complete to show that what we are faced with here 
is a systematic, methodical and evidently long-planned 
counter-revolutionary military and financial campaign 
against the Soviet Republic, which all the representatives 
of British and French imperialism had evidently been 



preparing for months. The general trend of events be¬ 
comes clear now when we review them as a whole, when 
we compare the Czechoslovak counter-revolutionary move¬ 
ment with the Murmansk landing—where we know the 
British have disembarked over ten thousand soldiers, and 
under the pretext of defending Murmansk have actually 
begun to advance, have occupied Kem and Soroki, have 
moved to the east of Soroki, and have begun to shoot our 
Soviet officials—and when we read in the newspapers 
that many thousands of railwaymen and other workers 
of the Far North are fleeing from these saviours and liber¬ 
ators, or, to give them their true name, these new im¬ 
perialist bandits who are rending Russia from another 
end. And quite recently we received new confirmation of 
the character of the Anglo-French offensive against Russia. 

For geographical considerations alone it is clear that 
the form of this imperialist offensive against Russia can¬ 
not be the same as it was in the case of Germany. There 
are no common frontiers with Russia, as in the case of 
Germany; troop strength is less. In her wars of conquest, 
Britain has been compelled for many decades, owing to 
the primarily colonial and naval character of her military 
might, to employ different methods of attack, to attempt 
chiefly to cut off her victim’s supply sources, and to prefer 
the method of strangulation, under pretext of aid, to open, 
direct, blunt and outright military force. From informa¬ 
tion recently received, it is clear that Alexeyev, who has 
long been notorious among the Russian soldiers and work¬ 
ers and who recently seized the village of Tikhoretskaya, 
has undoubtedly been utilising the aid of British and 
French imperialism. There the revolt was more clear-cut, 
again apparently because British and French imperialism 
had a hand in it. 

Lastly, we received news yesterday that in Baku the 
British and French imperialists have succeeded in making 
a very effective move. They have managed to secure a 
majority of about thirty votes in the Baku Soviet, over 
our Party, over the Bolsheviks, and those Left Socialist- 
Revolutionaries—unfortunately, very few in number—who 
refused to fall in with the despicable gambles and treach¬ 
ery of the Moscow Left Socialist Revolutionaries, 39 and 



who have remained loyal to the Soviet government in the 
struggle against imperialism and war. Over this nucleus in 
the Baku Soviet which is loyal to the Soviet government 
and which up to now constituted the majority, the British 
and French imperialists have now secured a majority of 
thirty votes, owing to the fact that the greater part of the 
Dashnaktsutyun Party, 40 the Armenian quasi-socialists, 
have sided with them against us. (Reads the telegram.) 

“On July 26, on the orders of People’s Commissar Korganov, the 
Adji-Kabul detachment retired from Adji-Kabul to a position near 
Alyat. After the withdrawal of the Shemakha detachment from 
Shemakha and Maraza the enemy began to advance along the River 
Pirsagat valley; the first skirmish with the enemy’s vanguard occurred 
near the village of Kubala. 

Simultaneously from the south, from the direction of the Kura, 
a large force of cavalry began to advance towards Pirsagat. Under 
the circumstances, to hold Adji-Kabul we would have had to deploy 
all our available forces on three sides: to the west of Adji-Kabul, and 
to the north and south of the Navagi-Pirsagat valley. Such an 
extension of the front would have left us without reserves and would 
have made it impossible for us to strike at the enemy as we have 
no cavalry, and would even have endangered the group at Adji- 
Kabul if the front had been broken from the north or south. In 
view of this situation, and in order to conserve the strength of the 
troops, orders were given to the detachment to retreat from Adji- 
Kabul to a position near Alyat. The retreat was carried out in good 
order. Important railway installations and the Adji-Kabul station, as 
well as the kerosene and oil tanks, have been blown up. In Daghe¬ 
stan, the enemy is on the move as part of the general offensive. On 
July 24, the enemy advanced in large forces in four directions. After 
twenty-four hours’ fighting we occupied the enemy’s trenches; the 
foe dispersed into the woods and nightfall prevented further pursuit. 
On July 24, news of successes was received from Shura, where fighting 
is going on around the town; the enemy is putting up a stubborn and 
organised resistance, and is commanded by former Daghestan officers. 
Daghestan peasants are taking an active part in the fighting around 

The Right-wing parties in Baku have raised their heads and are 
vigorously campaigning to call in the British. This campaign is 
strongly backed by the army officers and is being conducted among 
the forces at the front. Anglophil agitation has disorganised the army. 
The British orientation has recently been making great headway 
among the worn-out and despairing people. 

Under the influence of the unscrupulous and provocative activities 
of the Right-wing parties, the Caspian flotilla has adopted several 
contradictory resolutions in regard to the British. Deceived by British 
hirelings and volunteer agents, until quite recently it blindly believed 
in the sincerity of British support. 



Latest reports say that the British are advancing in Persia and 
have occupied Resht (Giljan), where for four days they have been 
engaged against Kuchuk-Khan and the German and Turkish bands, 
who have joined forces with him, headed by Mussavatists who had 
fled from Baku. After the Resht battle the British applied to us for 
assistance, but our representatives in Persia refused. The British got 
the upper hand in Resht. But they have practically no forces in 
Persia. We know they have only fifty men in Enzeli. They need 
petrol, in exchange for which they are offering us cars. Without 
petrol they are stuck. 

On July 25, a second session of the Soviet was held to discuss the 
political and military situation, and at the insistence of the Right- 
wing parties the question of the British was raised. Comrade Shahu- 
myan, Commissar Extraordinary for the Caucasus, citing the resolu¬ 
tion of the Fifth Congress of Soviets and Stalin’s telegram on behalf 
of the Central Council of People’s Commissars, spoke against invit¬ 
ing the British and demanded that this question be struck from the 
agenda. Comrade Shahumyan’s move was defeated by a small major¬ 
ity, whereupon, as representative of the central government, he entered 
a vigorous protest. The session heard the report of the delegates who 
had visited the front. By 259 votes of the Right Socialist-Revolution¬ 
aries, Right Dashnaks and Mensheviks against 236 votes of the Bol¬ 
sheviks, Left Socialist-Revolutionaries and Left Dashnaks, a resolu¬ 
tion was adopted to invite the British and form a government com¬ 
prising members of all parties represented in the Soviet and recognis¬ 
ing the power of the Council of People’s Commissars. The resolution 
was sharply condemned by the Left wing. Shahumyan declared that 
he regarded it as a shameful betrayal and stark ingratitude towards 
the workers and peasants of Russia and that as the central govern¬ 
ment’s representative, he renounced all responsibility for the decision. 
A statement was made on behalf of the group of the Bolsheviks, Left 
Socialist-Revolutionaries and Left Dashnaks to the effect that they 
would not join the coalition government and that the Council of 
People’s Commissars would resign. Comrade Shahumyan declared 
in the name of the three Left groups that a government which had in 
fact broken with the Russian Soviet government by inviting the 
British imperialists would receive no support from Soviet Russia. By 
its treacherous policy of inviting the British, the local Soviet had 
lost Russia and the parties supporting the Soviet government. 

The Right-wing parties were thrown into utter confusion at the 
decision of the Council of People’s Commissars to resign. When news 
of this situation got around there was an abrupt change of sentiment 
in the districts and at the front. The sailors realised they had been 
duped by traitors who want to break with Russia and bring down the 
Soviet government. The people are having second thoughts about 
the British. Yesterday, an urgent meeting of the Executive Committee 
was held over the resignation of the Council of People’s Commis¬ 
sars. It was decided that all the People’s Commissars should remain 
at their posts and continue their former functions pending decision 
of the question of power at the Soviet’s session on July 31. The 
Executive Committee has decided to take urgent measures to combat 



the threatening counter-revolution. The foe is carrying on activities 
under the wing of the Anglo-French parties. 

Press Bureau of the Baku Council of People’s Commissars.” 

Not unlike the groups here who call themselves social¬ 
ists but have never broken off relations with the bour¬ 
geoisie, there, too, these people came out in favour of 
inviting the British troops to defend Baku. 41 We already 
know only too well the meaning of such an invitation to 
imperialist troops to defend the Soviet Republic. We know 
the meaning of this invitation extended by the bourgeoi¬ 
sie, a section of the Socialist-Revolutionaries, and by the 
Mensheviks. We know the meaning of this invitation ex¬ 
tended by the Menshevik leaders in Tiflis, Georgia. 

We may now say that the Bolshevik, the Communist 
Party is the only party which has never invited imperialists 
and has never entered into a rapacious alliance with them, 
but has only retreated before these cutthroats when they 
pressed too hard. (Applause.) We know our Communist 
comrades in the Caucasus were in a very difficult posi¬ 
tion because the Mensheviks betrayed them everywhere 
by entering into direct alliance with the German imperial¬ 
ists, on the pretext, of course, of defending Georgia’s 

You are all aware that this independence of Georgia has 
become a sheer fraud. In actual fact it amounts to the 
occupation and complete seizure of Georgia by the Ger¬ 
man imperialists, an alliance of German bayonets with the 
Menshevik government against the Bolshevik workers and 
peasants. And, therefore, our Baku comrades were a 
thousand times right in refusing to close their eyes to the 
danger of the situation and saying: We would never be 
opposed to peace with an imperialist power on the basis 
of ceding part of our territory, provided this did not harm 
us, did not bind our troops in an alliance with the bayo¬ 
nets of the aggressors and did not prevent us from carrying 
on our socialist reconstruction. 

But since, as the question now stands, by inviting the 
British, supposedly for the defence of Baku, they are in¬ 
viting a power which has now swallowed up the whole 
of Persia and which has long been moving up its forces 



for seizing the Southern Caucasus—that is, surrendering 
themselves to British and French imperialism—we can¬ 
not doubt or hesitate for a moment and must say that, 
however difficult the position of our Baku comrades may 
be, by refusing to conclude such a peace they have taken 
the only step worthy of true socialists. The resolute rejec¬ 
tion of any agreement whatsoever with the British and 
French imperialists was the only true course for our Baku 
comrades to take, for you cannot invite them without 
converting your independent socialist government, even 
though on severed territory, into a slave of imperialist 

We therefore do not entertain the slightest doubt as to 
the significance of the Baku events in the general scheme 
of things. Yesterday, news was received that counter¬ 
revolutionary revolts have broken out in a number of 
towns in Central Asia with the obvious complicity of the 
British entrenched in India, who, having brought Afghan¬ 
istan completely under their sway, long ago created a 
base for extending their colonial possessions, strangling 
nations, and attacking Soviet Russia. And now, when these 
separate links have become quite clear to us, the present 
military and general strategic position of our Republic 
has been fully revealed. Murmansk in the North, the 
Czechoslovak front in the East, Turkestan, Baku and 
Astrakhan in the South-East—we see that practically all 
the links in the chain forged by British and French im¬ 
perialism have been joined. 

We now clearly see that the landowners, the capitalists 
and the kulaks, all of whom, of course, for perfectly natural 
reasons have a burning hatred for the Soviet government, 
are acting here, too, in ways greatly resembling those 
of the landowners, capitalists and kulaks in the Ukraine 
and in other regions severed from Russia. As the lackeys 
of British and French imperialism, they have done their 
utmost to undermine the Soviet government at all costs. 
Realising they could not do it with forces inside Russia 
alone, they decided to act not by words or appeals in the 
spirit of the Martov gentry, but by resorting to more ef¬ 
fective methods of struggle—military hostilities. That is 
where our attention should be chiefly directed; that is 



where we should concentrate all our agitation and prop¬ 
aganda; and we should shift the centre of the whole of 
our Soviet work accordingly. 

The fundamental fact is that it is the imperialist forces 
of the other coalition that are now at work, not the 
German, but the Anglo-French, which have seized part of 
our territory and are using it as a base. Up to now their 
geographical position has prevented them from attacking 
Russia by the direct route; now British and French im¬ 
perialism, which for four years has been drenching the 
whole world in blood in a bid for world supremacy, has 
by an indirect route approached within easy reach of Rus¬ 
sia, with the object of strangling the Soviet Republic and 
once more plunging Russia into imperialist war. You are 
ail perfectly aware, comrades, that from the very begin¬ 
ning of the October Revolution our chief aim has been to 
put a stop to the imperialist war; but we never harboured 
the illusion that the forces of the proletariat and the revolu¬ 
tionary people of any one country, however heroic and 
however organised and disciplined they might be, could 
overthrow international imperialism. That can be done only 
by joint efforts of the workers of the world. 

What we have done, however, is to sever all connections 
with the capitalists of the whole world in one country. Our 
government is not tied by a single thread to any kind of 
imperialists and never will be, whatever future course our 
revolution may take. The revolutionary movement against 
imperialism during the eight months of our rule has made 
tremendous strides, and in one of the chief centres of im¬ 
perialism, Germany, matters in January 1918 came to an 
armed clash and the bloody suppression of that movement. 
We have done our revolutionary duty as no revolutionary 
government in any country has ever done on an interna¬ 
tional, world wide scale. But we never deceived ourselves 
into thinking this could be done by the efforts of one 
country alone. We knew that our efforts were inevitably 
leading to a world-wide revolution, and that the war 
begun by the imperialist governments could not be stopped 
by the efforts of those governments themselves. It can be 
stopped only by the efforts of all workers; and when we 
came to power, our task as the proletarian Communist 


Party, at a time when capitalist bourgeois rule still re¬ 
mained in the other countries—our immediate task, I 
repeat, was to retain that power, that torch of socialism, 
so that it might scatter as many sparks as possible to add 
to the growing flames of socialist revolution. 

This was everywhere an extremely difficult task; and 
what enabled us to accomplish it was the fact that the pro¬ 
letariat rallied to the defence of the gains of the Socialist 
Republic. This task has led to a particularly arduous and 
critical situation, for the socialist revolution, in the direct 
sense of the term, has not yet begun in any country, although 
it is more imminent in countries like Italy and Austria. But 
as it has not yet begun, we are faced with a new success 
of British and French, and therefore world, imperialism. 
Whereas from the West, German imperialism continues 
to stand as a military, annexatory, imperialist force, from 
the North-East and South of Russia, British and French 
imperialism has been able to dig itself in and is making it 
patently obvious to us that this force is prepared once more 
to plunge Russia into imperialist war, is prepared to crush 
Russia, the independent socialist state that is continuing its 
socialist work and propaganda on a scale hitherto unparal¬ 
leled anywhere in the world. Against this, British and 
French imperialism has won a big victory, and, surrounding 
us on all sides, it is doing its utmost to crush Soviet Russia. 
We are fully aware that British and French imperialism’s 
victory is inseparably connected with the class struggle. 

We have always said—and revolutions bear it out—that 
when the foundations of the exploiters’ economic power are 
at stake, their property, which places the labour of tens of 
millions of workers and peasants at their disposal and 
enables the landowners and capitalists to enrich themselves, 
when, I repeat, the private property of the capitalists 
and landowners is at stake, they forget all talk about love 
for one’s country and independence. We know full well that 
the Cadets, 42 the Right Socialist-Revolutionaries and the 
Mensheviks have beaten the record in concluding alliances 
with the imperialist powers, in concluding predatory trea¬ 
ties and betraying the country to Anglo-French imperialism. 
The Ukraine and Tiflis are good examples. The alliance of 



the Mensheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries with 
the Czechs is sufficient proof of this. And the action of the 
Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, when they tried to embroil 
the Russian Republic in war in the interests of the Yaro¬ 
slavl whiteguards, shows quite clearly that when their class 
profits are at stake, the bourgeoisie will sell their country 
and strike a bargain with any foreigner against their own 
people. This truth has time and again been borne out by 
the history of the Russian revolution, after the history of 
revolution over a hundred years had shown that that is the 
law of the class interests, of the class policy of the bour¬ 
geoisie, at all times and in all countries. It is therefore by 
no means surprising that the present aggravation of the 
Soviet Republic’s international position is connected with 
the aggravation of the class struggle at home. 

We have often said that, in this respect, in regard to the 
aggravation of the food crisis, the period until the new 
harvest will be the most difficult. Russia is being flayed 
with the scourge of famine, which has attained unparal¬ 
leled proportions precisely because it is the plan of the im 
perialist robbers to cut off her granaries.. Their calculations 
are well founded and are aimed at getting social and class 
support in the grain-producing outlying regions; they seek 
areas where the kulaks predominate—the rich peasants, 
who have battened on the war and who live by the labour 
of others, the labour of the poor. You know that these 
people have piled up hundreds of thousands of rubles and 
that they have huge stocks of grain. You know that it is 
these people who have battened on national misfortunes 
and who had the greater opportunity to rob and increase 
their profits the more the population of the capital suffered 
—it is these kulaks who have constituted the chief and 
most formidable buttress of the counter-revolutionary 
movement in Russia. Here the class struggle has reached its 
deepest source. There is not a village left where the class 
struggle is not raging between a miserable handful of ku¬ 
laks on the one hand and the vast labouring majority—the 
poor and those middle peasants who have no grain sur¬ 
pluses, who have consumed them long ago, and who did 
not go in for profiteering—on the other. This class struggle 
has penetrated every village. 


When we were determining our political plans and 
publishing our decrees—the vast majority of those present 
here are, of course, familiar with them—when, I repeat, we 
drafted and passed the decrees on the organisation of the 
poor peasants, 43 it was clear to us we were coming up 
against the most decisive and fundamental issue of the 
whole revolution, the most decisive and fundamental issue, 
the issue of power—whether power would remain in the 
hands of the workers; whether they could gain the support 
of all the poor peasants, with whom they have no differ¬ 
ences; whether they would succeed in winning over the 
peasants with whom they have no disagreement, and unite 
this whole mass, which is dispersed, disunited and scattered 
through the villages—in which respect it lags behind the 
urban workers; whether they could unite them against the 
other camp, the camp of the landowners, the imperialists 
and kulaks. 

Before our very eyes the poor peasants have begun to 
rally together very quickly. It is said that revolution teaches. 
The class struggle does indeed teach in practice that 
any false note in the position of any party immediately 
lands that party where it deserves to be. We have clearly 
seen the policy of the Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party, 
who, because of their spinelessness and stupidity, started 
to vacillate at a time when the food problem was at its 
height, and that party disappeared from the scene as a 
party and became a pawn in the hands of the Yaroslavl 
whiteguards. (Applause.) 

Comrades, the wave of revolts sweeping Russia is easy 
to understand in the light of this sharpening of the class 
struggle over the food crisis at the very time when we know 
the new harvest is a bumper one but cannot yet. be gath¬ 
ered, and when the hunger-tormented people of Petrograd 
and Moscow are being driven to revolt by the kulaks and 
the bourgeoisie, who are making the most desperate efforts, 
crying “Now or never!” There is the revolt in Yaroslavl. 44 
And we can see the influence of the British and French; 
we see the calculations of the counter-revolutionary land- 
owners and bourgeoisie. Wherever the question of grain 
arose, they obstructed the grain monopoly, without which 
there can be no socialism. That is just where the bourgeoi- 



sie are bound to unite; here the bourgeoisie have a stronger 
backing than the country yokel. The decisive fight between 
the forces of socialism and bourgeois society is bound to 
come in any case, whatever happens, if not today, then 
tomorrow, on one issue or another. Only pseudo-socialists, 
like our Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, for example, can 
waver. When socialists waver over this question, over this 
fundamental question, it means they are only pseudo¬ 
socialists, and are not worth a brass farthing. The effect of 
the revolution has virtually been to turn such socialists 
into mere pawns in the hands of the French generals, 
pawns whose role was demonstrated by the former Central 
Committee of the former Left Socialist-Revolutionary Party. 

Comrades, the result of these combined efforts of the 
counter-revolutionary Russian bourgeoisie and the British 
and French imperialists has been that the Civil War in our 
country is now coming from a quarter which not all of us 
anticipated and from which not all of us clearly realised it 
might come, and it has merged with the war from without 
into one indivisible whole. The kulak revolt, the Czechoslo¬ 
vak mutiny and the Murmansk movement are all part of 
one and the same war that is bearing down on Russia. We 
escaped from war in one quarter by incurring tremendous 
losses, by signing an incredibly harsh peace treaty; we 
knew we were concluding a predatory peace, but we said 
we would be able to continue our propaganda and our con¬ 
structive work, and in that way cause the imperialist world’s 
disintegration. We have succeeded in doing so. Germany 
is now negotiating with us as to how many thousand mil¬ 
lions to extort from Russia on the basis of the Brest-Litovsk 
Peace Treaty, but she has recognised all the acts of 
nationalisation we proclaimed under the decree of June 28. 45 
She has not raised the question of private ownership of land 
in the Republic; this point must be stressed as a counter¬ 
blast to the fantastic lies spread by Spiridonova and simi¬ 
lar leaders of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, lies that 
have brought grist to the mill of the landowners and are 
now being repeated by the most ignorant and backward 
Black-Hundred elements. These lies must be nailed. 

The fact of the matter is that, burdensome as the peace 
treaty may be, we have won freedom to carry on socialist 


construction at home, and have taken steps in this direction 
which are now becoming known in Western Europe and 
constitute elements of propaganda that are incomparably 
more effective than any before. 

So, having got out of war in one quarter, with one coa¬ 
lition, we have been at once subjected to an imperialist 
assault from another quarter. Imperialism is a world-wide 
phenomenon; it is a struggle for the division of the whole 
world, of the whole earth, for the domination of one or 
another group of robbers. Now another group of vultures, 
the Anglo-French, are hurling themselves at our throats 
and threatening to drag us into war again. Their war is 
merging with the Civil War into one continuous whole, and 
that is the chief source of our difficulties at present, when 
the question of war, of military events, has again come to 
the fore as the cardinal and fundamental question of the 
revolution. There lies the whole difficulty, for the people 
are tired of war, exhausted by it as never before. The 
Russian people’s state of extreme war fatigue and 
exhaustion is rather like that of a man who has been 
thrashed within an inch of his life, and who cannot be 
expected to show any energy of working capacity. And 
in the same way this nearly four years’ war, overwhelming 
a country which had been despoiled, tormented, and defiled 
by tsarism, by the autocracy, the bourgeoisie and Kerensky, 
has for many reasons naturally aroused a feeling of abhor 
rence in the Russian people, and is one of the chief sources 
of the tremendous difficulties we are now experiencing. 

Yet, such a turn of events definitely made for war. We 
have again been plunged into war, we are in a state of war; 
and it is not only civil war, war against the kulaks, the 
landowners and the capitalists who have united against 
us—now we are faced with British and French imperial¬ 
ism. The imperialists are still not in a position to throw 
their armies against Russia—they are prevented by geo¬ 
graphical conditions; but they are devoting all they can. 
all their millions, all their diplomatic connections and 
forces, to aid our enemies. We are in a state of war. and 
we can emerge triumphant. But here we come up against 
a formidable enemy, one of the most difficult to cope 
with—war-weariness, hatred and abhorrence of war; and 



this must be overcome, otherwise we shall not be able to 
tackle this problem—the problem of war—which does not 
depend on our will. Our country has again been plunged 
into war, and the outcome of the revolution will now 
entirely depend on who is the victor. The principal protag¬ 
onists are the Czechs, but the real directors, the real 
motive and actuating power are the British and French 
imperialists. The whole question of the existence of the 
Russian Socialist- Federative Soviet Republic, the whole 
question of the Russian socialist revolution has been reduced 
to a question of war. There lie tremendous difficulties, 
considering the state in which the people have emerged 
from the imperialist war. Our task is now perfectly clear. 
Any deceit would be tremendously harmful; we consider 
it a crime to conceal this bitter truth from the workers 
and peasants. On the contrary, let the truth be brought 
home to them all as clearly and graphically as possible. 

Yes, there have been cases when our troops displayed 
criminal weakness, as, for example, during the capture of 
Simbirsk by the Czechs, when our forces retreated. We 
know the troops are tired of war and loathe it; but it is 
also natural and inevitable that until imperialism is defeated 
internationally, it would attempt to drag Russia into 
imperialist war, endeavour to make a shambles of her. 
Whether we like it or not, the question stands as follows: 
we are in a war, and on the outcome of that war hangs 
the fate of the revolution. That should be the first and last 
word in our propaganda work, in all our political, revolu¬ 
tionary, and construction activities. We have done very 
much in a short time, but the job is not yet over. All our 
activities must be entirely and completely geared to this 
question, on which the fate and outcome of the revolu¬ 
tion, the fate of the Russian and world revolution now 
depends. Of course, world imperialism cannot get out of 
the present war without a number of revolutions; this war 
cannot end otherwise than by the ultimate victory of 
socialism. But our task now is to maintain, protect and 
uphold this force of socialism, this torch of socialism, this 
source of socialism which is so actively influencing the 
whole world. And as matters now stand, this task is a mil¬ 
itary task. 


This is not the first time we have been in such a situa¬ 
tion, and many of us have said that however severe the 
price we had to pay for peace, however grave the sacri¬ 
fices it demanded of us, however much the enemy was 
striving to rob us of more and more territory, Russia so 
far, in the face of great odds, was enjoying peace and in 
a position to consolidate her socialist gains. We have even 
gone farther in this direction than many of us expected. 
For example, our workers’ control 46 has advanced a long 
way from its early forms, and today we are about to wit¬ 
ness the conversion of the state administration into a 
socialist system. We have made great strides in our 
practical affairs. We now have the workers completely 
running industry. But circumstances have prevented us 
from continuing that work in peace; they have once again 
plunged us into war, and we must strain every nerve and 
summon everyone to arms. It would be a disgrace for 
any Communist to be in two minds over this. 

Vacillation among the peasants does not surprise us. The 
peasants have not been through the same school of life 
as the workers, who have been accustomed for decades to 
look upon the capitalist as their class enemy, and who 
have learned to unite their forces to combat him. We know 
the peasants have not been through such a university. 
At one time they sided with the workers but today we are 
witnessing a period of vacillation, when the peasants are 
splitting up. We know any number of instances of kulaks 
selling grain to the peasants below the fixed prices in order 
to create the impression that they, the kulaks, are defend¬ 
ing the peasants’ interests. None of this surprises us. But 
the Communist worker will not waver, the working class 
will stand firm; and if a kulak spirit prevails among the 
peasants, it is quite understandable. Where the Czechs rule 
and the Bolsheviks no longer are, we have the following 
picture: at first the Czechs are hailed practically as deliv¬ 
erers; but after a few weeks of this bourgeois rule, a 
tremendous movement against the Czechs and in favour of 
the Soviet government arises, because the peasants begin 
to realise that all talk about freedom of trade and a Con¬ 
stituent Assembly means only one thing—the rule of the 
landowners and capitalists. 




Our job is to get the workers to rally and to create an 
organisation under which within the next few weeks every¬ 
thing will be devoted to solving the war issue. We are now 
at war with British and French imperialism and with every¬ 
thing bourgeois and capitalist in Russia, with everyone 
endeavouring to frustrate the socialist revolution and 
embroil us in war. The situation is one where all the gains 
of the workers and peasants are at stake. We may be 
confident that we shall have the broad sympathy and sup¬ 
port of the proletariat, and then the danger will be com¬ 
pletely averted, and new ranks of the proletariat will come 
forward to stand up for their class and save the socialist 
revolution. As matters now stand, the struggle is being 
fought over two major issues, and all the main party dif¬ 
ferences have been obliterated in the fires of revolution. The 
Left Socialist-Revolutionary who keeps insistently remind¬ 
ing us that he is on the left, concealing himself behind a 
cloud of revolutionary phrases, while actually revolting 
against the Soviet government, is just the same a hireling 
of the Yaroslavl whiteguards. That is what he is in history 
and the revolutionary struggle! Today only two classes 
confront each other in the battle arena: the class struggle 
is between the proletariat, which is protecting the interests 
of the working people, and those protecting the interests 
of the landowners and capitalists. All talk about a Con¬ 
stituent Assembly, about an independent state and so on, 
which is being used to dupe the ignorant masses, has been 
exposed by the experience of the Czechoslovak and Cauca¬ 
sian Menshevik movements. Behind all this talk stand the 
same forces—the landowners and capitalists; and the Czech 
mutiny brings in its train the rule of the landowners and 
capitalists, just as the German occupation does. That is 
what the war is about! 

Comrades, the workers must close their ranks more firmly 
than ever and set an example of organisation and discipline 
in this struggle. Russia is still the only country which has 
severed all ties with the imperialists. True, we are bleeding 
from grave wounds. We have retreated in the face of the 
imperialist brute, playing for time, striking a blow at it 
here and there. But, as the Socialist Soviet Republic, we 
have remained independent. Performing our socialist work, 



we opposed the imperialism of the whole world; and this 
struggle is becoming clearer and clearer to the workers of 
the world, and their mounting indignation is bringing them 
nearer and nearer to the future revolution. It is over this 
that the struggle is being waged, because our Republic is 
the only country in the world not to march hand in hand 
with imperialism and not to allow millions of people to be 
slaughtered to decide whether the French or the Germans 
will rule the world. Our Republic is the only country to 
have broken away by force, by revolutionary means, from 
the world imperialist war, and to have raised the banner 
of socialist revolution. But it is being dragged back into 
the imperialist war, and being forced into the trenches. 
Let the Czechs fight the Germans, let the Russian bour¬ 
geoisie make their choice, let Milyukov decide, perhaps 
even in concurrence with Spiridonova and Kamkov, which 
imperialists to side with. But we declare we must be pre¬ 
pared to lay down our lives to prevent them deciding this 
question, for the salvation of the whole socialist revolution 
is at stake. (Applause.) I know there is a change of spirit 
among the peasants of the Saratov, Samara, and Simbirsk 
gubernias, where fatigue was most marked and fitness for 
military action was lowest of all. After experiencing the 
ravages of the Cossacks and Czechs, and having a real 
taste of what the Constituent Assembly and the cries “Down 
with the Brest Peace Treaty!” mean, they have realised 
that all this only leads to the return of the landowner, to 
the capitalist mounting the throne—and they are now 
becoming the most ardent champions of Soviet power. I 
have not the slightest doubt that the Petrograd and Mos¬ 
cow workers, who are marching at the head of the rev¬ 
olution, will understand the situation, will understand the 
gravity of the times and will act with greater determination 
than ever, and that the proletariat will smash both the 
Anglo-French and the Czech offensive in the interests of 
the socialist revolution. (Applause.) 

Published in 1919 in the book 
All-Russia Central Executive 
Committee. Fifth Convocation. 
Verbatim Report, Moscow 

Collected Works , Vol. 28, 
pp. 17-34 



Comrades! A Russian Bolshevik who took part in the 
1905 Revolution, and who lived in your country for many 
years afterwards, has offered to convey my letter to you. 
I have accepted his proposal all the more gladly because 
just at the present time the American revolutionary workers 
have to play an exceptionally important role as uncom¬ 
promising enemies of American imperialism—the freshest, 
strongest and latest in joining in the world-wide slaughter 
of nations for the division of capitalist profits. At this very 
moment, the American multimillionaires, these modern 
slaveowners, have turned an exceptionally tragic page in 
the bloody history of bloody imperialism by giving their 
approval—whether direct or indirect, open or hypocriti¬ 
cally concealed, makes no difference—to the armed expe¬ 
dition launched by the brutal Anglo-Japanese imperialists 
for the purpose of throttling the first socialist republic. 

The history of modern, civilised America opened with 
one of those great, really liberating, really revolutionary 
wars of which there have been so few compared to the vast 
number of wars of conquest which, like the present 
imperialist war, were caused by squabbles among kings, 
landowners or capitalists over the division of usurped 
lands or ill-gotten gains. That was the war the American 
people waged against the British robbers who oppressed 
America and held her in colonial slavery, in the same way 
as these “civilised” blood-suckers are still oppressing and 
holding in colonial slavery hundreds of millions of people 
in India, Egypt, and all parts of the world. 



About 150 years have passed since then. Bourgeois civili¬ 
sation has borne all its luxurious fruits. America has taken 
first place among the free and educated nations in level 
of development of the productive forces of collective human 
endeavour, in the utilisation of machinery and of all the 
wonders of modern engineering. At the same time, America 
has become one of the foremost countries in regard to the 
depth of the abyss which lies between the handful of arro¬ 
gant multimillionaires who wallow in filth and luxury, and 
the millions of working people who constantly live on the 
verge of pauperism. The American people, who set the 
world an example in waging a revolutionary war against 
feudal slavery, now find themselves in the latest, capital¬ 
ist stage of wage-slavery to a handful of multimillionaires, 
and And themselves playing the role of hired thugs who, 
for the benefit of wealthy scoundrels, throttled the Philip¬ 
pines in 1898 on the pretext of “liberating” them, and are 
throttling the Russian Socialist Republic in 1918 on the 
pretext of “protecting” it from the Germans. 

The four years of the imperialist slaughter of nations, 
however, have not passed in vain. The deception of the 
people by the scoundrels of both robber groups, the Brit¬ 
ish and the German, has been utterly exposed by indisput¬ 
able and obvious facts. The results of the four years of war 
have revealed the general law of capitalism as applied to 
war between robbers for the division of spoils: the richest 
and strongest profited and grabbed most, while the weak¬ 
est were utterly robbed, tormented, crushed and strangled. 

The British imperialist robbers were the strongest in 
number of “colonial slaves”. The British capitalists have 
not lost an inch of “their” territory (i.e., territory they have 
grabbed over the centuries), but they have grabbed all the 
German colonies in Africa, they have grabbed Mesopota¬ 
mia and Palestine, they have throttled Greece, and have 
begun to plunder Russia. 

The German imperialist robbers were the strongest in 
organisation and discipline of “their” armies, but weaker 
in regard to colonies. They have lost all their colonies, but 
plundered half of Europe and throttled the largest number 
of small countries and weak nations. What a great war of 
“liberation” on both sides! How well the robbers of both 



groups, the Anglo-French and the German capitalists, 
together with their lackeys, the social-chauvinists, i.e., the 
socialists who went over to the side of “their own ” bour¬ 
geoisie, have “defended their country”! 

The American multimillionaires were, perhaps, richest 
of all, and geographically the most secure. They have 
profited more than all the rest. They have converted all, 
even the richest, countries into their tributaries. They have 
grabbed hundreds of billions of dollars. And every dollar 
is sullied with filth: the filth of the secret treaties between 
Britain and her “allies”, between Germany and her vas¬ 
sals, treaties for the division of the spoils, treaties of mutual 
“aid” for oppressing the workers and persecuting the inter¬ 
nationalist socialists. Every dollar is sullied with the filth 
of “profitable” war contracts, which in every country made 
the rich richer and the poor poorer. And every dollar is 
stained with blood—from that ocean of blood that has been 
shed by the ten million killed and twenty million maimed 
in the great, noble, liberating and holy war to decide 
whether the British or the German robbers are to get most 
of the spoils, whether the British or the German thugs are 
to be foremost in throttling the weak nations all over the 

While the German robbers broke all records in war 
atrocities, the British have broken all records not only in 
the number of colonies they have grabbed, but also in the 
subtlety of their disgusting hypocrisy. This very day, the 
Anglo French and American bourgeois newspapers are 
spreading, in millions and millions of copies, lies and 
slander about Russia, and are hypocritically justifying 
their predatory expedition against her on the plea that 
they want to “protect” Russia from the Germans! 

It does not require many words to refute this despicable 
and hideous lie; it is sufficient to point to one well-known 
fact. In October 1917, after the Russian workers had over¬ 
thrown their imperialist government, the Soviet govern¬ 
ment, the government of the revolutionary workers and 
peasants, openly proposed a just peace, a peace without 
annexations or indemnities, a peace that fully guaranteed 
equal rights to all nations—and it proposed such a peace 
to all the belligerent countries. 



It was the Anglo-French and the American bourgeoisie 
who refused to accept our proposal; it was they who even 
refused to talk to us about a general peace! It was they 
who betrayed the interests of all nations; it was they who 
prolonged the imperialist slaughter! 

It was they who, banking on the possibility of dragging 
Russia back into the imperialist war, refused to take part 
in the peace negotiations and thereby gave a free hand 
to the no less predatory German capitalists who imposed 
the annexationist and harsh Brest Peace upon Russia! 

It is difficult to imagine anything more disgusting than 
the hypocrisy with which the Anglo-French and American 
bourgeoisie are now “blaming” us for the Brest Peace 
Treaty. The very capitalists of those countries which 
could have turned the Brest negotiations into general 
negotiations for a general peace are now our “accusers”! 
The Anglo-French imperialist vultures, who have profited 
from the plunder of colonies and the slaughter of nations, 
have prolonged the war for nearly a whole year after Brest, 
and yet they “accuse” us, the Bolsheviks, who proposed a 
just peace to all countries, they accuse us, who tore up, 
published and exposed to public disgrace the secret, crim¬ 
inal treaties concluded between the ex-tsar and the Anglo- 
French capitalists. 

The workers of the whole world, no matter in what 
country they live, greet us, sympathise with us, applaud 
us for breaking the iron ring of imperialist ties, of sordid 
imperialist treaties, of imperialist chains—for breaking 
through to freedom, and making the heaviest sacrifices in 
doing so—for, as a socialist republic, although torn and 
plundered by the imperialists, keeping out of the imperialist 
war and raising the banner of peace, the banner of social¬ 
ism for the whole world to see. 

Small wonder that the international imperialist gang 
hates us for this, that it “accuses” us, that all the lackeys 
of the imperialists, including our Right Socialist-Revolu¬ 
tionaries and Mensheviks, also “accuse” us. The hatred 
these watchdogs of imperialism express for the Bolsheviks, 
and the sympathy of the class-conscious workers of the 
world, convince us more than ever of the justice of our 



A real socialist would not fail to understand that for 
the sake of achieving victory over the bourgeoisie, for the 
sake of power passing to the workers, for the sake of start¬ 
ing the world proletarian revolution, we cannot and must 
not hesitate to make the heaviest sacrifices, including the 
sacrifice of part of our territory, the sacrifice of heavy 
defeats at the hands of imperialism. A real socialist wohld 
have proved by deeds his willingness for “his” country to 
make the greatest sacrifice to give a real push forward to 
the cause of the socialist revolution. 

For the sake of “their” cause, that is, for the sake of 
winning world hegemony, the imperialists of Britain and 
Germany have not hesitated to utterly ruin and throttle a 
whole number of countries, from Belgium and Serbia to 
Palestine and Mesopotamia. But must socialists wait with 
“their” cause, the cause of liberating the working people of 
the whole world from the yoke of capital, of winning 
universal and lasting peace, until a path without sacrifice is 
found? Must they fear to open the battle until an easy 
victory is “guaranteed”? Must they place the integrity and 
security of “their” bourgeois-created “fatherland” above the 
interests of the world socialist revolution? The scoundrels 
in the international socialist movement who think this way 
those lackeys who grovel to bourgeois morality, thrice 
stand condemned. 

The Anglo-French and American imperialist vultures 
“accuse” us of concluding an “agreement” with German 
imperialism. What hypocrites, what scoundrels they are 
to slander the workers’ government while trembling 
because of the sympathy displayed towards us by the 
workers of “their own” countries! But their hypocrisy will 
be exposed. They pretend not to see the difference between 
an agreement entered into by “socialists” with the bour¬ 
geoisie (their own or foreign) against the workers, against 
the working people, and an agreement entered into for 
the protection of the workers who have defeated their 
bourgeoisie, with the bourgeoisie of one national colour 
against the bourgeoisie of another colour in order that the 
proletariat may take advantage of the antagonisms between 
the different groups of bourgeoisie. 

In actual fact, every European sees this difference very 



well, and, as I shall show in a moment, the American 
people have had a particularly striking “illustration” of 
it in their own history. There are agreements and agree¬ 
ments, there are fagots et fagots , as the French say. 

When in February 1918 the German imperialist vultures 
hurled their forces against unarmed, demobilised Russia, 
who had relied on the international solidarity of the 
proletariat before the world revolution had fully matured, 
I did not hesitate for a moment to enter into an “agree¬ 
ment” with the French monarchists. Captain Sadoul, a 
French army officer who, in words, sympathised with the 
Bolsheviks, but was in deeds a loyal and faithful servant 
of French imperialism, brought the French officer de 
Lubersac to see me. “I am a monarchist. My only aim is 
to secure the defeat of Germany,” de Lubersac declared to 
me. “That goes without saying (cela va sans dire),” I 
replied. But this did not in the least prevent me from 
entering into an “agreement” with de Lubersac concerning 
certain services that French army officers, experts in 
explosives, were ready to render us by blowing up railway 
lines in order to hinder the German invasion. This is an 
example of an “agreement” of which every class-con¬ 
scious worker will approve, an agreement in the interests 
of socialism. The French monarchist and I shook hands, 
although we knew that each of us would willingly hang 
his “partner”. But for a time our interests coincided. 
Against the advancing rapacious Germans, we, in the 
interests of the Russian and the world socialist revolution, 
utilised the equally rapacious counter-interests of other 
imperialists. In this way we served the interests of the 
working class of Russia and of other countries, we strength¬ 
ened the proletariat and weakened the bourgeoisie of the 
whole world, we resorted to the methods, most legitimate 
and essential in every war, of manoeuvre, stratagem, 
retreat, in anticipation of the moment when the rapidly 
maturing proletarian revolution in a number of advanced 
countries completely matured. 

However much the Anglo-French and American imperial 
ist sharks fume with rage, however much they slander 
us, no matter how many millions they spend on bribing the 
Right Socialist-Revolutionary, Menshevik and other social- 



patriotic newspapers, I shall not hesitate one second to 
enter into a similar “agreement” with the German impe¬ 
rialist vultures if an attack upon Russia by Anglo-French 
troops calls for it. And I know perfectly well that my tac¬ 
tics will be approved by the class-conscious proletariat of 
Russia, Germany, France, Britain, America—in short, of 
the whole civilised world. Such tactics will ease the task of 
the socialist revolution, will hasten it, will weaken the 
international bourgeoisie, will strengthen the position of 
the working class which is defeating the bourgeoisie. 

The American people resorted to these tactics long ago 
to the advantage of their revolution. When they waged 
their great war of liberation against the British oppres¬ 
sors, they had also against them the French and the Span¬ 
ish oppressors who owned a part of what is now the 
United States of North America. In their arduous war for 
freedom, the American people also entered into “agree¬ 
ments” with some oppressors against others for the pur¬ 
pose of weakening the oppressors and strengthening those 
who were fighting in a revolutionary manner against 
oppression, for the purpose of serving the interests of 
the oppressed people. The American people took advan¬ 
tage of the strife between the French, the Spanish and the 
British; sometimes they even fought side by side with the 
forces of the French and Spanish oppressors against the 
British oppressors; first they defeated the British and 
then freed themselves (partly by ransom) from the French 
and the Spanish. 

Historical action is not the pavement of Nevsky Pros- 
pekt, said the great Russian revolutionary Ghernyshevsky. 
A revolutionary would not “agree” to a proletarian revo¬ 
lution only “on the condition” that it proceeds easily and 
smoothly, that there is, from the outset, combined action 
on the part of the proletarians of different countries, that 
there are guarantees against defeats, that the road of the 
revolution is broad, free and straight, that it will not be 
necessary during the march to victory to sustain the 
heaviest casualties, to “bide one’s time in a besieged for¬ 
tress”, or to make one’s way along extremely narrow, im¬ 
passable, winding and dangerous mountain tracks. Such a 
person is no revolutionary, he has not freed himself from 



the pedantry of the bourgeois intellectuals; such a person 
will be found constantly slipping into the camp of the 
counter-revolutionary bourgeoisie, like our Right Socialist- 
Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and even (although more 
rarely) Left Socialist-Revolutionaries. 

Echoing the bourgeoisie, these gentlemen like to blame 
us for the “chaos” of the revolution, for the “destruction” 
of industry, for the unemployment and the food shortage. 
How hypocritical these accusations are, coming from those 
who welcomed and supported the imperialist war, or who 
entered into an “agreement” with Kerensky who continued 
this war! It is this imperialist war that is the cause of all 
these misfortunes. The revolution engendered by the war 
cannot avoid the terrible difficulties and suffering be¬ 
queathed it by the prolonged, ruinous, reactionary slaugh¬ 
ter of the nations. To blame us for the “destruction” of 
industry, or for the “terror”, is either hypocrisy or dull- 
witted pedantry; it reveals an inability to understand the 
basic conditions of the fierce class struggle, raised to the 
highest degree of intensity that is called revolution. 

Even when “accusers” of this type do “recognise” the 
class struggle, they limit themselves to verbal recognition; 
actually, they constantly slip into the philistine utopia of 
class “agreement” and “collaboration”; for in revolutionary 
epochs the class struggle has always, inevitably, and in 
every country, assumed the form of civil war , and civil 
war is inconceivable without the severest destruction, ter¬ 
ror and the restriction of formal democracy in the interests 
of this war. Only unctuous parsons—whether Christian 
or “secular” in the persons of parlour, parliamentary 
socialists—cannot see, understand and feel this necessity. 
Only a lifeless “man in the muffler” 48 can shun the revo¬ 
lution for this reason instead of plunging into battle with 
the utmost ardour and determination at a time when his- 
tory demands that the greatest problems of humanity be 
solved by struggle and war. 

The American people have a revolutionary tradition 
which has been adopted by the best representatives of the 
American proletariat, who have repeatedly expressed their 
complete solidarity with us Bolsheviks. That tradition is 
the war of liberation against the British in the eighteenth 



century and the Civil War in the nineteenth century. In 
some respects, if we only take into consideration the “de¬ 
struction” of some branches of industry and of the national 
economy, America in 1870 was behind 1860. But what a 
pedant, what an idiot would anyone be to deny on these 
grounds the immense, world-historic, progressive and 
revolutionary significance of the American Civil War of 

The representatives of the bourgeoisie understand that 
for the sake of overthrowing Negro slavery, of overthrow¬ 
ing the rule of the slaveowners, it was worth letting the 
country go through long years of civil war, through the 
abysmal ruin, destruction and terror that accompany every 
war. But now, when we are confronted with the vastly 
greater task of overthrowing capitalist u;age-slavery, of 
overthrowing the rule of the bourgeoisie—now, the repre¬ 
sentatives and defenders of the bourgeoisie, and also the 
reformist socialists who have been frightened by the bour¬ 
geoisie and are shunning the revolution, cannot and do 
not want to understand that civil war is necessary and 

The American workers will not follow the bourgeoisie. 
They will be with us, for civil war against the bourgeoisie. 
The whole history of the world and of the American labour 
movement strengthens my conviction that this is so. I 
also recall the words of one of the most beloved leaders of 
the American proletariat, Eugene Debs, who wrote in the 
Appeal to Reason , 49 I believe towards the end of 1915, in 
the article “What Shall I Fight For” (I quoted this article 
at the beginning of 1916 at a public meeting of workers 
in Berne, Switzerland)*— that he, Debs, would rather be 
shot than vote credits for the present criminal and reac¬ 
tionary war; that he, Debs, knows of only one holy and, 
from the proletarian standpoint, legitimate war, namely: 
the war against the capitalists, the war to liberate mankind 
from wage-slavery. 

I am not surprised that Wilson, the head of the American 
multimillionaires and servant of the capitalist sharks, has 
thrown Debs into prison. Let the bourgeoisie be brutal to 


See Collected Works , Vol. 22, p. 125.— Ed. 


the true internationalists, to the true representatives of the 
revolutionary proletariat! The more fierce and brutal they 
are, the nearer the day of the victorious proletarian revo¬ 

We are blamed for the destruction caused by our revo¬ 
lution.... Who are the accusers? The hangers-on of the 
bourgeoisie, of that very bourgeoisie who, during the four 
years of the imperialist war, have destroyed almost the 
whole of European culture and have reduced Europe to 
barbarism, brutality and starvation. These bourgeoisie now 
demand we should not make a revolution on these ruins, 
amidst this wreckage of culture, amidst the wreckage and 
ruins created by the war, nor with the people who have 
been brutalised by the war. How humane and righteous 
the bourgeoisie are! 

Their servants accuse us of resorting to terror.... The 
British bourgeoisie have forgotten their 1649, the French 
bourgeoisie have forgotten their 1793. Terror was just and 
legitimate when the bourgeoisie resorted to it for their own 
benefit against feudalism. Terror became monstrous and 
criminal when the workers and poor peasants dared to use 
it against the bourgeoisie! Terror was just and legitimate 
when used for the purpose of substituting one exploiting 
minority for another exploiting minority. Terror became 
monstrous and criminal when it began to be used for the 
purpose of overthrowing every exploiting minority, to be 
used in the interests of the vast actual majority, in the 
interests of the proletariat and semi-proletariat, the work¬ 
ing class and the poor peasants! 

The international imperialist bourgeoisie have slaugh¬ 
tered ten million men and maimed twenty million in 
“their” war, the war to decide whether the British or the 
German vultures are to rule the world. 

If our war, the war of the oppressed and exploited 
against the oppressors and the exploiters, results in half 
a million or a million casualties in all countries, the bour¬ 
geoisie will say that the former casualties are justified, 
while the latter are criminal. 

The proletariat will have something entirely different 
to say. 

Now, amidst the horrors of the imperialist war, the pro- 



letariat is receiving a most vivid and striking illustration 
of the great truth taught by all revolutions and bequeathed 
to the workers by their best teachers, the founders of 
modern socialism. This truth is that no revolution can be 
successful unless the resistance of the exploiters is 
crushed. When we, the workers and toiling peasants, 
captured state power, it became our duty to crush the 
resistance of the exploiters. We are proud we have been 
doing this. We regret we are not doing it with sufficient 
firmness and determination. 

We know that fierce resistance to the socialist revolution 
on the part of the bourgeoisie is inevitable in all countries, 
and that this resistance will grow with the growth of this 
revolution. The proletariat will crush this resistance; dur 
ing the struggle against the resisting bourgeoisie it will 
finally mature for victory and for power. 

Let the corrupt bourgeois press shout to the whole world 
about every mistake our revolution makes. We are not 
daunted by our mistakes. People have not become saints 
because the revolution has begun. The toiling classes who 
for centuries have been oppressed, downtrodden and 
forcibly held in the vice of poverty, brutality and ignorance 
cannot avoid mistakes when making a revolution. And, as 
I pointed out once before, the corpse of bourgeois society 
cannot be.nailed in a coffin and buried.* The corpse of 
capitalism is decaying and disintegrating in our midst, pol¬ 
luting the air and poisoning our lives, enmeshing that which 
is new, fresh, young and virile in thousands of threads and 
bonds of that which is old, moribund and decaying. 

For every hundred mistakes we commit, and which the 
bourgeoisie and their lackeys (including our own Men¬ 
sheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries) shout about 
to the whole world, 10,000 great and heroic deeds are per¬ 
formed, greater and more heroic because they are simple 
and inconspicuous amidst the everyday life of a factory 
district or a remote village, performed by people who are 
not accustomed (and have no opportunity) to shout to the 
whole world about their successes. 

But even if the contrary were true—although I know 

* See Collected Works, Vol. 27, p. 434.— Ed. 



such an assumption is wrong—even if we committed 10,000 
mistakes for every 100 correct actions we performed, even 
in that case our revolution would be great and invincible, 
and so it will be in the eyes of world history, because, 
for the first time, not the minority, not the rich alone, not 
the educated alone, but the real people,, the vast majority 
of the working people, are themselves building a new life, 
are by their own experience solving the most difficult 
problems of socialist organisation. 

Every mistake committed in the course of such work, 
in the course of this most conscientious and earnest work 
of tens of millions of simple workers and peasants in 
reorganising their whole life, every such mistake is worth 
thousands and millions of “flawless” successes achieved by 
the exploiting minority—successes in swindling and dup¬ 
ing the working people. For only through such mistakes 
will the workers and peasants learn to build the new life, 
learn to do without capitalists; only in this way will they 
hack a path for themselves—through thousands of obsta¬ 
cles—to victorious socialism. 

Mistakes are being committed in the course of their 
revolutionary work by our peasants, who at one stroke, in 
one night, October 25-26 (old style), 1917, entirely abolished 
the private ownership of land, and are now, month after 
month, overcoming tremendous difficulties and correcting 
their mistakes themselves, solving in a practical way the 
most difficult tasks of organising new conditions of eco¬ 
nomic life, of fighting the kulaks, providing land for the 
working people (and not for the rich), and of changing 
to communist large-scale agriculture. 

Mistakes are being committed in the course of their revo¬ 
lutionary work by our workers, who have already, after 
a few months, nationalised almost all the biggest factories 
and plants, and are learning by hard, everyday work the 
new task of managing whole branches of industry, are set¬ 
ting the nationalised enterprises going, overcoming the 
powerful resistance of inertia, petty-bourgeois mentality 
and selfishness, and, brick by brick, are laying the foun¬ 
dation of new social ties, of a new labour discipline, of a 
new influence of the workers’ trade unions over their 



Mistakes are committed in the course of their revolution¬ 
ary work by our Soviets, which were created as far back 
as 1905 by a mighty upsurge of the people. The Soviets 
of Workers and Peasants are a new type of state, a new 
and higher type of democracy, a form of the proletarian 
dictatorship, a means of administering the state without 
the bourgeoisie and against the bourgeoisie. For the first 
time democracy is here serving the people, the working 
people, and has ceased to be democracy for the rich as it 
still is in all bourgeois republics, even the most democratic. 
For the first time, the people are grappling, on a scale 
involving one hundred million, with the problem of imple¬ 
menting the dictatorship of the proletariat and semi-pro¬ 
letariat—a problem which, if not solved, makes socialism 
out of the question. 

Let the pedants, or the people whose minds are incur¬ 
ably stuffed with bourgeois-democratic or parliamentary 
prejudices, shake their heads in perplexity about our 
Soviets, about the absence of direct elections, for exam¬ 
ple. These people have forgotten nothing and have learned 
nothing during the period of the great upheavals of 1914 
18. The combination of the proletarian dictatorship with 
the new democracy for the working people—of civil war 
with the widest participation of the people in politics— 
such a combination cannot be brought about at one stroke, 
nor does it fit in with the outworn modes of routine par¬ 
liamentary democracy. The contours of a new world, the 
world of socialism, are rising before us in the shape of the 
Soviet Republic. It is not surprising that this world does 
not come into being ready-made, does not spring forth 
like Minerva from the head of Jupiter. 

The old bourgeois-democratic constitutions waxed 
eloquent about formal equality and right of assembly; but 
our proletarian and peasant Soviet Constitution casts aside 
the hypocrisy of formal equality. When the bourgeois 
republicans overturned thrones they did not worry about 
formal equality between monarchists and republicans. 
When it is a matter of overthrowing the bourgeoisie, only 
traitors or idiots can demand formal equality of rights for 
the bourgeoisie. “Freedom of assembly” for workers and 
peasants is not worth a farthing when the best buildings 



belong to the bourgeoisie. Our Soviets have confiscated all 
the good buildings in town and country from the rich 
and have transferred all of them to the workers and peas¬ 
ants for their unions and meetings. This is our freedom of 
assembly—for the working people! This is the meaning 
and content of our Soviet, our socialist Constitution! 

That is why we are all so firmly convinced that no mat¬ 
ter what misfortunes may still be in store for it, our 
Republic of Soviets is invincible . 

It is invincible because every blow struck by frenzied 
imperialism, every defeat the international bourgeoisie 
inflict on us, rouses more and more sections of the workers 
and peasants to the struggle, teaches them at the cost of 
enormous sacrifice, steels them and engenders new heroism 
on a mass scale. 

We know that help from you will probably not come 
soon, comrade American workers, for the revolution is 
developing in different countries in different forms and 
at different tempos (and it cannot be otherwise). We know 
that although the European proletarian revolution has 
been maturing very rapidly lately, it may, after all, not 
flare up within the next few weeks. We are banking on 
the inevitability of the world revolution, but this does not 
mean that we are such fools as to bank on the revolution 
inevitably coming on a definite and early date. We have 
seen two great revolutions in our country, 1905 and 1917, 
and we know revolutions are not made to order, or by 
agreement. We know that circumstances brought our Rus¬ 
sian detachment of the socialist proletariat to the fore not 
because of our merits, but because of the exceptional back¬ 
wardness of Russia, and that before the world revolution 
breaks out a number of separate revolutions may be 

In spite of this, we are firmly convinced that we are 
invincible, because the spirit of mankind will not be broken 
by the imperialist slaughter. Mankind will vanquish it. And 
the first country to break the convict chains of the im¬ 
perialist war was our country. We sustained enormously 
heavy casualties in the struggle to break these chains, but 
we broke them. We are free from imperialist dependence, 



we have raised the banner of struggle for the complete 
overthrow of imperialism for the whole world to see. 

We are now, as it were, in a besieged fortress until the 
other detachments of the world socialist revolution come 
to our relief. These detachments exist, they are more 
numerous than ours, they are maturing, growing, gaining 
more strength the longer the brutalities of imperialism 
continue. The workers are breaking away from their 
social-traitors—the Gomperses, Hendersons, Renaudels, 
Scheidemanns and Renners. Slowly but surely the workers 
are adopting communist, Bolshevik tactics and are march¬ 
ing towards the proletarian revolution, which alone is 
capable of saving dying culture and dying mankind. 

In short, we are invincible, 
tarian revolution is invincible. 

because the world 


August 20, 1918 



Pravda No. 178 

Collected Works, 

Vol. 28, 

August 22, 1918 

pp. 62-75 


NOVEMBER 6-9, 1918 



(Prolonged applause.) Comrades, from the very begin¬ 
ning of the October Revolution, foreign policy and inter¬ 
national relations have been the main questions facing us. 
Not merely because from now on all the states in the world 
are being firmly linked by imperialism into a single sys¬ 
tem, or rather, into one dirty, bloody mass, but because 
the complete victory of the socialist revolution in one 
country alone is inconceivable and demands the most active 
co-operation of at least several advanced countries, which 
do not include Russia. Hence one of the main problems 
of the revolution is now the extent to which we succeed 
in broadening the revolution in other countries too, and 
the extent to which we succeed meanwhile in warding 
off imperialism. 

I should like to remind you briefly of the main stages 
of our international policy over the past year. As I have 
already had occasion to point out in my speech on the 
anniversary of the revolution, the main feature characteris¬ 
ing our position a year ago was that we were on our own.* 
No matter how sound our conviction that a revolutionary 
force was being and had been created throughout Europe 
and that the war would not end without revolution, there 
were no signs at the time that a revolution had begun or 

* See Collected Works, Vol. 28, pp. 151. 



was beginning. In these circumstances we could do nothing 
but direct our foreign policy efforts to enlightening the 
working people of Western Europe. This was not because 
we claimed to he more enlightened than they, but because 
so long as the bourgeoisie of a country have not been 
overthrown, military censorship and that fantastically 
bloodthirsty atmosphere which accompanies every war, 
particularly a reactionary one, predominate in that country. 
You well appreciate that in the most democratic, republican 
countries, war means military censorship and unprece¬ 
dented methods employed by the bourgeoisie and the bour¬ 
geois military staffs to deceive the people. We set out to 
share our achievements in this respect with other nations. 
We did everything possible for this when we annulled and 
published the disgraceful secret treaties which the ex-tsar 
had concluded with the British and French capitalists to 
the benefit of the Russian capitalists. You know that these 
were downright predatory treaties. You know that the 
government of Kerensky and the Mensheviks kept these 
treaties secret and upheld them. By way of exception, we 
come across statements in that section of the British and 
French press which is to any degree honest that, thanks 
only to the Russian revolution, the French and the British 
learned much that was material to them as regards their 
diplomatic history. 

We have certainly done very little from the point of 
view of the social revolution as a whole, but what we have 
done has been one of the greatest steps in its preparation. 

If we now make a general survey of the results gained 
by the exposure of German imperialism, we shall see that 
it is now obvious to the working people of all countries 
that they were made to wage a bloody and predatory war. 
And at the end of this year of war the behaviour of Britain 
and America is beginning to be exposed in the same way, 
since the people are opening their eyes and begin to see 
through the evil designs. That is all we have done, but we 
have done our bit. The exposure of these treaties was a 
blow to imperialism. The terms of the peace treaty which 
we were compelled to conclude proved to be a powerful 
weapon of propaganda and agitation; we did more with 
them than any other government or nation has done. But 



while it is true that the attempt we made to awaken the 
people did not produce immediate results, we never even 
assumed that the revolution would begin immediately, or 
that all would be lost. During the past fifteen years we 
have brought about two revolutions, and we have clearly 
seen how much time must elapse before they grip the 
people. Recent events in Austria and Germany confirm this. 
We said that we had no intention of allying ourselves with 
robbers and becoming robbers ourselves; no, we expected 
to arouse the proletariat of the enemy countries. We were 
jeered at and told we were preparing to arouse the German 
proletariat which would strangle us while we were prepar¬ 
ing to launch a propaganda attack. But facts have shown 
we were right to assume that the working people in all 
countries are equally hostile to imperialism. They only need 
to be given a certain period for preparation; despite 
memories of the 1905 Revolution, it took the Russian 
people, too, some time before they rose again to the rev¬ 

Before the Brest-Litovsk Peace we did everything in our 
power to hit at imperialism. If the history of the growth 
of the proletarian revolution did not completely wipe this 
out, and if the Brest-Litovsk Peace forced us to retreat 
before imperialism, this was because we w 7 ere insufficiently 
prepared in January 1918. Fate condemned us to isola¬ 
tion, and we went through an agonising period after the 
Brest-Litovsk Peace. 

Comrades, the four years which we spent in world war 
ended in peace, but on onerous terms. In the final analy¬ 
sis, however, even these onerous peace terms proved that 
we were right and that our hopes were not built on sand. 
With every passing month we grew stronger while West- 
European imperialism grew weaker. Now, as a result, we 
see that Germany, who six months ago completely ignored 
our Embassy and thought there could be no Red institu¬ 
tion there, recently, at any rate, has been weakening. The 
latest telegram informs us of the German imperialists’ 
appeal to the people to keep calm, saying that peace is near 
at hand. We know what is meant when monarchs appeal 
for calm and promise to do the impossible in the near 
future. If Germany gets peace soon, it will be a Brest- 



Litovsk Peace, which instead of peace will bring the 
working people more misery than ever. 

The results of our international policy shaped in such 
a way that six months after the Brest-Litovsk Peace we 
were a devastated country to the bourgeoisie, but, to the 
proletariat, we were rapidly developing and now head the 
proletarian army which has begun to shake Austria and 
Germany. This success vindicated and fully justified all 
our sacrifices in any worker’s eyes. If we were to be sud¬ 
denly wiped out, if our activities were to be cut short— 
this is impossible since miracles do not happen—yet if this 
were to happen we would be justified in saying, without 
concealing our mistakes, that we have made full use of the 
period, offered us by fate, for the world socialist revolu¬ 
tion. We have done everything possible for the working 
people of Russia, and we have done more than anyone 
else for the world proletarian revolution. (Applause.) 

In recent months, and in recent weeks, the international 
situation has begun to change sharply; now German im¬ 
perialism is almost completely defeated. All designs on the 
Ukraine which the German imperialists fostered among 
their working people proved to be empty promises. It 
turned out that American imperialism was ready, and a 
blow was struck at Germany. A totally different situaiion 
has arisen. We have been under no illusions. After the 
October Revolution we were considerably weaker than 
imperialism and even now we are weaker than internatio¬ 
nal imperialism. We must repeat this now so as not to 
deceive ourselves: following the October Revolution we 
were weaker and could not fight. Now we are weaker too 
and must do everything we can to avoid a clash with impe¬ 

That we were able to survive a year after the October 
Revolution was due to the split of international imperial¬ 
ism into two predatory groups: Anglo-French-American 
on the one hand, and German on the other, which were 
locked in mortal combat, and which had no time for us. 
Neither group could muster large forces against us, which 
they would have done had they been in a position to do 
so. They were blinded by the bloodthirsty atmosphere of 
war. The material sacrifices required to carry on the war 


demanded the utmost concentration of their efforts. They 
had no time for us, not because by some miracle we were 
stronger than the imperialists—no, that would be non¬ 
sense—but only because international imperialism had 
split into two predatory groups which were at each other’s 
throats. Only thanks to this the Soviet Republic was able 
to openly declare war on the imperialists of all countries, 
depriving them of their capital in the shape of foreign 
loans, slapping them in the face and openly emptying 
their plunder-laden pockets. 

An end has come to the period of declarations which 
we then made over the correspondence started by the 
German imperialists, even though world imperialism could 
not tear into us as it should have done in line with its 
hostility and thirst for capitalist profits, which had been 
fantastically expanded by the war. Until the moment of 
the Anglo-American imperialists’ victory over the other 
group they were fully occupied fighting among themselves, 
and so had no chance to launch a decisive campaign 
against the Soviet Republic. There is no longer a second 
group. Only one group of victors remains. This has com¬ 
pletely altered our international position, and we must 
take this change into account. The facts show how this 
change bears on the development of the international situa¬ 
tion. The workers’ revolution is now winning in the defeat¬ 
ed countries; everyone can clearly see what tremendous 
advances it has made. When we took power in October 
we were nothing more in Europe than a single spark. 
True, the sparks began to fly, and they flew from us. This 
is our greatest achievement, but even so, these were isolat¬ 
ed sparks. Now most countries within the sphere of 
German-Austrian imperialism are aflame (Bulgaria, Aus¬ 
tria and Hungary). We know that from Bulgaria the revo¬ 
lution has spread to Serbia. We know how these worker- 
peasant revolutions passed through Austria and reached 
Germany. Several countries are enveloped in the flames of 
workers’ revolution. In this respect our efforts and sacri¬ 
fices have been justified. They were not reckless adven¬ 
tures, as our enemies slanderously claimed, but an essential 
step towards world revolution, which had to be taken by 



the country that had been placed in the lead, despite its 
underdevelopment and backwardness. 

This is one result, and the most important from the 
point of view of the final outcome of the imperialist war. 
The other result is the one to which I referred earlier, that 
Anglo-American imperialism is now exposing itself in the 
same way as Austro-German did in its time. We can see 
that if, at the time of the Brest-Litovsk negotiations, Ger¬ 
many had been somewhat level-headed, able to keep herself 
in check and to refrain from making gambles, she would 
have been able to maintain her domination and undoubt¬ 
edly could have secured an advantageous position in the 
West. She did not do this because when a machine like 
a war involving millions and tens of millions, a war which 
inflamed chauvinist passions to the utmost, a war bound 
up with capitalist interests totalling hundreds of billions of 
rubles—when such a machine has gathered full speed 
there are no brakes that can stop it. This machine went 
farther than the German imperialists themselves desired, 
and they were crushed by it. They were stuck; they ended 
up like a man who had gorged himself to death. And now, 
before our very eyes, British and American imperialism is 
in this extremely ugly, but, from the viewpoint of the 
revolutionary proletariat, extremely useful position. You 
might have thought they would have had much greater 
political experience than Germany. Here are people used 
to democratic rule, not to the rule of some Junker or 
other, people who went through the hardest period of 
their history hundreds of years ago. You might have 
thought these people would have retained their presence 
of mind. If we were to speak as individuals, from the 
point of view of democracy in general, as bourgeois phil- 
istines, professors, who have understood nothing from 
the struggle between imperialism and the working class, 
whether or not they were capable of level headedness, if 
we reasoned from the point of view of democracy in gener¬ 
al, then we would have to say that Britain and America 
are countries with a centuries-old tradition of democracy, 
that the bourgeoisie there would be able to hold their 
ground. If by some means they were to succeed now in 
holding on, this would at any rate be for a fairly long 



period. But it seems that the same thing is happening to 
them as happened to the militarist-despotic Germany. In 
this imperialist war there is a tremendous difference 
between Russia and the republican countries. The im¬ 
perialist war is so steeped in blood, so predatory and 
bestial, that it has effaced even these important differences, 
and in this respect it has brought the freest democracy of 
America to the level of semi-militarist, despotic Germany. 

We see that Britain and America, countries which had 
greater opportunities than others for remaining democrat¬ 
ic republics, have overdone things as savagely and insanely 
as Germany did in her time, and so they are heading, 
just as quickly, and perhaps even faster, towards the end 
so successfully arrived at by German imperialism. It 
swelled out fantastically over three-quarters of Europe, 
became distended and then burst, leaving behind it an 
awful stench. Now British and American imperialism is 
racing to the same end. You only have to take a cursory 
glance at the armistice and peace terms which the British 
and Americans, the “liberators” of the people from Ger¬ 
man imperialism, are presenting to the defeated nations. 
Take Bulgaria. You would have thought that a country 
like Bulgaria could hold no terror for the Anglo-American 
imperialist colossus. Nevertheless, the revolution in this 
small, weak, absolutely helpless country caused the Anglo- 
Americans to lose their heads and present armistice terms 
that are tantamount to occupation. In this country where 
a peasants’ republic has been proclaimed, in Sofia, an 
important railway junction, the whole railway is now in 
the hands of Anglo-American troops. They are forced to 
fight this little peasants’ republic. From the military point 
of view this is a walkover. People who take the view of 
the bourgeoisie, of the old ruling class, of old military 
relations, merely smile contemptuously. What does this 
pigmy Bulgaria signify in comparison with the Anglo- 
American forces? Nothing from the military standpoint, 
but a great deal from the revolutionary standpoint. This 
is not a colony where they are used to exterminating the 
defeated people in their millions. The British and Ameri¬ 
cans consider this is only establishing law and order, 
bringing civilisation and Christianity to African savages. 



But this is not Central Africa. Here the soldiers, no mat¬ 
ter how strong their army, become demoralised when they 
come up against a revolution. Germany is proof enough 
of this. In Germany, at any rate as regards discipline, the 
soldiers were model army men. Yet when the Germans 
marched into the Ukraine, factors other than discipline 
came into play. The starving German soldier marched for 
bread, and it would have been unrealistic to demand that 
he should not steal too much bread. Moreover, we know 
that in this country he was most of all infected by the 
spirit of the Russian revolution. The German bourgeoisie 
were well aware of this and it caused Wilhelm to panic. 
The Hohenzollerns are mistaken if they imagine that 
Germany will shed a single drop of blood for them. This 
is the result of the policy of bellicose German imperialism. 
The same thing is repeating itself in regard to Britain. The 
Anglo-American army is already becoming demoralised; 
this began as soon as it launched the ferocious campaign 
against Bulgaria. And this is only the beginning. Austria 
followed Bulgaria. Permit me to read you some of the 
clauses of the terms dictated by the Anglo-American im¬ 
perialist victors* These are the people who most of all 
shouted to the working people that they were conducting 
a war of liberation, that their chief aim was to crush 
Prussian' militarism which threatened to spread the des¬ 
potic regime over all countries. They shouted loudest that 
they were conducting a war of liberation. This was a decep¬ 
tion. You know that bourgeois lawyers, these parliamen¬ 
tarians who have spent their whole lives learning the art 
of deception without blushing, find it easy to deceive each 
other—but they don’t get away with it when they have to 
deceive the workers in the same way. British and Ameri¬ 
can politicians and parliamentarians are past masters at 

* A newspaper account of Lenin’s speech published in Pravda 
No. 243, November 10, 1918, quotes the following terms: ‘The Com¬ 
plete demobilisation of Austria-Hungary. Half of the artillery materiel 
is to be handed over to the Allies. All evacuated regions are to be 
occupied by the Allies. The British and American troops are to 
maintain order in these regions. The Allies will have free access to 
all railways and waterways. The Allies are entitled to the right to 
requisition.”— Ed. 



this art. But they will not get away with deception. The 
working people, whom they incited in the name of free¬ 
dom, will come to their senses straight away, and even 
more so when, on a mass scale, not from proclamations 
(which help, but do not really move the revolution), but 
from their own experience, they see they are being 
deceived, when they become aware of the peace terms with 

These are peace terms now being forced on a compara¬ 
tively weak, disintegrating state by people who shouted 
that the Bolsheviks were traitors because they signed the 
Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty. When the Germans wanted to 
send their soldiers to Moscow, we said we would rather 
all die in battle than agree to this. (Applause.) We told 
ourselves great sacrifices would have to be made in the 
occupied areas, but everybody knows how Soviet Russia 
helped and kept them supplied with necessities. Now the 
democratic troops of Britain and France will have to serve 
to “maintain law and order”, and this when there are 
Soviets of Workers’ Deputies in Bulgaria and Serbia, when 
there are Soviets of Workers’ Deputies in Vienna and 
Budapest. We know what kind of order this means. It 
means that the Anglo-American troops are to be the throt- 
tlers and executioners of the world revolution. 

Comrades, when the Russian serf troops were sent to 
suppress the Hungarian Revolution in 1848, 51 they were 
able to get away with it because they were serfs; they 
were able to get away with it in relation to Poland. 52 But 
people who have known freedom for a century and who 
were incited to hate German imperialism because it was 
a beast which had to be destroyed, must understand that 
Anglo-American imperialism is the same sort of beast 
whom it would be only right to destroy as well! 

And now history, with its usual malicious irony, has 
arrived at the point where, after the exposure of German 
imperialism, it is the turn of Anglo-French imperialism 
to utterly expose itself. We declare to the Russian, Ger¬ 
man and Austrian working people that these are not the 
Russian serf troops of 1848! They will not get away with it! 
They are out to stop people getting from capitalism to 
freedom and to suppress the revolution. We are abso- 



lutely convinced that this bloated monster will fall into 
the same abyss as did the German imperialist monster. 

I now turn to matters which affect us most of all. I shall 
begin with the peace terms which Germany will have to 
agree to. 53 The comrades from the Commissariat for 
Foreign Affairs told me that The Times, the chief mouth¬ 
piece of the fabulously rich British bourgeoisie who actual¬ 
ly shape the entire policy, has already published the terms 
to be imposed on Germany. She is expected to hand over 
Heligoland and the Wilhelmshaven Canal, Essen, where 
practically all military equipment is manufactured, disband 
her merchant fleet, immediately hand over Alsace-Lor¬ 
raine and pay indemnities totalling 60 thousand million, a 
great part of which must be paid in kind because money 
has depreciated everywhere and British merchants too 
have begun to calculate in another currency. We can see 
that the peace terms they are preparing for Germany will 
be completely devastating, far harsher than the Brest- 
Litovsk terms. They are strong enough materially and phys¬ 
ically to do so if it were not for the existence of that 
awful Bolshevism. By imposing these peace terms they 
are preparing their own doom. For this is happening in 
civilised countries in the twentieth century, not in Central 
Africa. The once disciplined German soldier who put down 
the illiterate Ukrainian people has now buried his disci¬ 
pline. So it is all the more certain that the British and 
American imperialists will bury themselves when they make 
the gamble, which will bring about their political downfall, 
of turning their troops into throttlers and gendarmes of 
all Europe. They have been trying to destroy Russia for 
some time, and have been thinking of attacking her for 
some time. You only have to recall the Murmansk occu¬ 
pation, the millions they squandered on the Czechs, the 
treaty they concluded with Japan. And now Britain has 
a treaty with the Turks which gives her Baku so that she 
may strangle us by depriving us of raw materials. 

British troops are ready to attack Russia from the South, 
through the Dardanelles or through Bulgaria and Ruma¬ 
nia. They are closing in around the Soviet Republic, they 
are trying to cut off our economic contacts with the whole 
world. For this reason they compelled Holland to break 


off diplomatic relations with us. 54 When Germany expelled 
our Ambassador 55 she acted, if not in direct agreement 
with Anglo-French policy, then hoping to do them a 
service so that they should be magnanimous to her. The im¬ 
plication was: we are also fulfilling the duties of execu¬ 
tioner against the Bolsheviks, your enemies. 

Comrades, we should say that the main point about 
the international situation is (as I mentioned the other day) 
ttiat we have never been so near to world proletarian 
revolution as we are now. We have proved we were not 
mistaken in banking on world proletarian revolution. Our 
great national and economic sacrifices were not made in 
vain. We achieved successes. Yet if we have never pre¬ 
viously been so close to world revolution, then it is also 
true to say that we have never been in such a dangerous 
situation as we are now. The imperialists were busy 
among themselves, but now one group has been wiped out by 
the Anglo-French-American group, which considers its main 
task to be the extermination of world Bolshevism and the 
strangulation of its main centre, the Russian Soviet Repub¬ 
lic. To do this, they intend to surround themselves with a 
Great Wall of China so as to keep out the plague, the 
plague of Bolshevism. These people are trying to rid them¬ 
selves of Bolshevism by going into quarantine, but this 
cannot be done. Even if these Anglo-French imperialist 
gentlemen, who possess the best techniques in the world, 
succeed in building this Great Wall around the Republic, 
the germ of Bolshevism will still penetrate the wall and 
infect the workers of the world. (Applause.) 

Comrades, the West-European press, the press of Anglo- 
French imperialism, tries its hardest to keep silent about 
the state of imperialism. No lie or slander is vile enough 
to use against the Soviet government. It is true to say now 
that all the Anglo-French and American papers, with finan¬ 
cial backing running into billions, are in capitalist hands 
and that they act in one syndicate to suppress the truth 
about Soviet Russia, to spread lies and slander about us. 
Yet despite the fact that for years there has been a mili¬ 
tary censorship which has prevented a word of truth about 
the Soviet Republic from appearing in the newspapers of 
the democratic countries, not a single large workers’ meet- 



ing held anywhere goes by without the workers siding 
with the Bolsheviks, because it is impossible to hide the 
truth. The enemy accuses us of implementing the dicta¬ 
torship of the proletariat. They are right and we do not 
hide it. The fact that the Soviet Government is not afraid 
and openly admits this attracts more millions of workers 
to its side, because the dictatorship is directed against the 
exploiters, and the working people see and are convinced 
that the struggle we are waging against the exploiters is 
a serious one and will be brought to a serious conclusion. 
Although the European papers surround us with a con¬ 
spiracy of silence, they have so far announced that they 
regard it their duty to attack Russia because Russia sur¬ 
rendered to Germany, because Russia is in fact a German 
agent, because government leaders in Russia, they claim, 
are German agents. New forged documents, for which a 
good price is paid, appear every month proving that Lenin 
and Trotsky are downright traitors and German agents. 
Despite all this they cannot hide the truth, and from time 
to time there are open signs that the imperialist gentle¬ 
men feel uneasy. L’Echo de Paris admits: “We are going 
into Russia to break the power of the Bolsheviks.” Their 
official line is that they are only fighting German domina¬ 
tion, not conducting a war with Russia and not interfering 
in military matters. Our French internationalists who 
publish the lll-me Internationale 56 in Moscow cited this 
quotation, and although we have been cut off from Paris 
and France by an extremely elaborate Great Wall of 
China, we tell the French imperialist gentlemen that they 
cannot defend themselves from their own bourgeoisie. 
Indeed, hundreds of thousands of French workers know 
this small quotation, and others too, and see that all the 
declarations of their rulers, of their bourgeoisie, are noth¬ 
ing but lies. Their own bourgeoisie let the cat out of the 
bag; they acknowledge that they want to break the power 
of the Bolsheviks. After four years of bloody war they 
have to tell their people: go and fight again against Russia 
to break the power of the Bolsheviks whom we hate be¬ 
cause they owe us 17 thousand million 57 and won’t pay up, 
because they are rude to capitalists, landowners and tsars. 
Civilised nations, who come down to admitting such things, 



patently betray the failure of their policy. No matter how 
strong they may be militarily we calmly review their 
strength and say: but you have in your rear an even more 
terrible enemy—the common people, whom you have 
deceived up to now; so much so that your tongue has 
dried up from the lies and slander you have spread about 
Soviet Russia. Similar information may be gleaned from 
The Manchester Guardian of October 23. This British 
bourgeois newspaper writes: “If the Allied armies still 
remain in Russia and still operate in Russia, their purpose 
can only be to effect a revolution in ... Russia. The Allied 
governments must, therefore, either ... put an end to their 
operations in Russia or announce that they are at war with 

I repeat that the significance of this small quotation, 
which sounds to us like a revolutionary call, like a power¬ 
ful revolutionary appeal, is that it is written by a bour¬ 
geois newspaper, which is itself an enemy of the social¬ 
ists, but feels that the truth can no longer be hidden. If 
bourgeois papers write in this vein you can imagine what 
the British workers must be thinking and saying. You 
know the sort of language used by the liberals in tsarist 
times, prior to the 1905 and 1917 revolutions. You know 
this language heralded an impending explosion amidst the 
revolutionary proletariat. From the language of these 
British bourgeois liberals, therefore, you can draw conclu¬ 
sions about what is going on in the moods, minds and 
hearts of the British, French and American workers. We 
must, therefore, face the bitter truth about our interna¬ 
tional position. The world revolution is not far off, but it 
cannot develop according to a special time-table. Having 
survived two revolutions we well ‘ appreciate this. We 
know, however, that although the imperialists cannot con¬ 
tain the world revolution, certain countries are likely to be 
defeated, and even heavier losses are possible. They know 
that Russia is in the birth-pangs of a proletarian revolu¬ 
tion, but they are mistaken if they think that by crushing 
one centre of the revolution they will crush the revolution 
in other countries. 

We, for our part, must admit that the situation is more 
dangerous than ever before, that once again we shall have 



to summon up every effort. Over the past year we have 
laid a firm foundation, created a socialist Red Army with 
a new discipline, and we are absolutely certain that we 
can and must continue the work we are doing. At all 
meetings, in every Soviet institution, at trade union meet¬ 
ings and at meetings of Poor Peasants’ Committees we 
must say: Comrades, we have survived a year and have 
achieved some success, but all this is still insufficient 
when we consider the powerful enemy bearing down on 
us. This enemy, Anglo-French imperialism, is world¬ 
wide, powerful and has defeated the whole world. We 
are going to fight it not because we think ourselves eco¬ 
nomically and technically on a par with the advanced coun¬ 
tries of Europe. No, but we do know this enemy is going 
to topple into the abyss into which Austro-German impe¬ 
rialism once toppled; we know that the enemy, which 
has now ensnared Turkey, seized Bulgaria and is bent on 
occupying the whole of Austria-Hungary with the object 
of establishing a tsarist, gendarme regime, is heading for 
its doom. We know this as an historical fact, and that is 
why, while in no way attempting the impossible, we say 
we can beat off Anglo-French imperialism! 

Every step in strengthening our Red Army will be 
echoed by a dozen steps in the disintegration of and revo¬ 
lutions in this apparently all-powerful enemy. There is 
therefore no cause whatsoever for despair or pessimism. 
We know the danger is great. It may be that fate has even 
heavier sacrifices in store for us. Even if they can crush 
one country, they can never crush the world proletarian 
revolution, they will only add more fuel to the flames that 
will consume them all. (Prolonged applause passing into 

Newspaper reports published in Collected Works , Vol. 28, 

Izoestia No. 244, November 9, pp. 151-64 

1918, and in Pravda No. 243, 

November 10, 1918 

First published in full in 1919 

in the book Extraordinary Sixth AU- 

Russia Congress of Soviets. 

Verbatim Report, Moscow 




The most important of our experiences is the Brest 
peace. This is the most significant result of the foreign 
policy of the Council of People’s Commissars. We were 
obliged to play for time, to retreat, manoeuvre and sign 
a most humiliating peace treaty, and in this way gain an 
opportunity to lay the foundation of a new socialist army. 
This foundation we have laid, while our once mighty and 
all-powerful enemy is already powerless. 

All over the world things are moving in the same direc¬ 
tion, and this is the chief and principal lesson that we 
must learn and try to understand as clearly as possible in 
order to avoid making mistakes in the extremely intricate, 
extremely difficult and extremely involved problems of 
foreign policy which any day may confront the Council 
of People’s Commissars, the Central Executive Committee, 
and Soviet power as a whole. 

I shall conclude my remarks on foreign policy with this 
and proceed to deal with some other extremely important 

Comrades, as regards activities in the military field—a 
year ago, in February and March 1918, we had no army 
at all. We had, perhaps, ten million armed workers and 
peasants who constituted the old army that had collapsed 
completely, was fully ready and determined to desert, to 
flee, to abandon everything, come what may. 

At that time this was regarded as an exclusively Rus- 




sian phenomenon. People thought that owing to the Rus¬ 
sians’ characteristic impatience, or lack of organisation, 
they would not hold out, whereas the Germans would. 

That is what we were told. And now we see that a few 
months have passed and the same thing has happened to 
the German army, which was immeasurably superior to 
ours in culture, equipment, and discipline, in providing 
decent conditions for the sick and wounded, as regards 
home leave, and sp forth. Even the most cultured and dis¬ 
ciplined masses could not stand the slaughter, the many 
years of slaughter, and so a period of absolute disintegra¬ 
tion set in when even the advanced German army broke 

Evidently, there is a limit not only for Russia but for 
all countries. There are different limits for different coun¬ 
tries, but for all of them there is a limit beyond which it 
is impossible to continue to wage war for the sake of the 
interests of the capitalists. This is what we see today. 

German imperialism has completely exposed itself as a 
predator. The most important thing is that even in Ameri¬ 
ca and in France, in these notorious democracies (the 
traitors to socialism, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolu¬ 
tionaries, those hapless people who call themselves social¬ 
ists, are fond of chattering about democracies), in these 
most advanced democracies of the world, in these repub¬ 
lics, imperialism is becoming more arrogant every day and 
we find there beasts of prey more predatory than any¬ 
where else. They are plundering the world, fighting each 
other, and arming against each other. This cannot be 
concealed for long. It could be concealed when the war 
fever was at its height. But the fever is subsiding, peace 
is approaching, and it is precisely in these democracies 
that the masses see, in spite of all the lies they are being 
told, that the war has led to fresh plunder, that the most 
democratic republic is nothing more nor less than a dis¬ 
guise for the most brutal and cynical predator who is ready 
to ruin hundreds of millions of people in order to pay the 
debts, that is, to pay the imperialist gentlemen, the capital¬ 
ists. for being good enough to allow the workers to cut 
each other’s throats. This is becoming clearer to the 
masses every day. 


It is this situation that makes possible political state¬ 
ments such as the article written by the military corre¬ 
spondent of a newspaper that belongs to the richest and 
most politically experienced bourgeoisie, the London 
Times; the author appraises events by saying that all over 
the world the armies are breaking up and there is only 
one country where the army is being built up, and that 
country is Russia. 

The bourgeoisie—which militarily is far stronger than 
Soviet Bolshevism—is compelled to admit this fact. And 
this fact serves as a criterion of what we have accom¬ 
plished in the course of our Soviet activities in the past year. 

We succeeded in reaching a turning-point where instead 
of an army of ten million, the bulk of which had deserted, 
unable to stand the horrors of war, and which had realised 
that this was a criminal war, we began to build, one hun¬ 
dred thousand after another, a socialist army, which knows 
what it is fighting for and is ready to make greater sacri¬ 
fices and suffer more privation than under tsarism. For 
this army knows that it is fighting for its own cause, for 
its own land, for its own power in the factories, that it is 
defending the power of the working people, and that the 
working people of other countries are awakening, slowly 
and with great difficulty, but awakening nevertheless. 

This is the situation that characterises the year’s ex¬ 
perience of Soviet power. 

War is an incredible hardship for Soviet Russia, war is 
an incredible hardship for a people who for four years 
have borne the horrors of the imperialist war. For Soviet 
Russia war is an incredibly heavy burden. But at the pres¬ 
ent time even our powerful enemies admit that their 
armies are cracking up, whereas our army is being built. 
For the first time in history an army is being built on the 
basis of the closest contact, inseverable contact, coa¬ 
lescence, one might say, of the army and the Soviets. The 
Soviets unite all the working people, all the exploited, and 
the army is being built up for the purpose of socialist 
defence and on the basis of class-consciousness. 

An eighteenth-century Prussian monarch once wisely 
remarked: “If our soldiers knew what we were fighting 
for, it would be impossible to wage a single war.” That old 



Prussian monarch was no fool. We, however, are prepared 
to say, comparing our position with that of the monarch, 
that we can wage war because the masses know what they 
are fighting for; and they want to fight notwithstanding 
the incredible burdens—burdens, I repeat, far greater than 
under tsarism—knowing that they are making these des¬ 
perate and incredibly heavy sacrifices in defence of their 
socialist cause, fighting side by side with those workers of 
other countries who are becoming “demoralised” and are 
beginning to understand our position. 

Some foolish people are shouting about red militarism. 
These are political crooks who pretend that they believe 
this absurdity and throw charges of this kind right and left, 
exercising their lawyers’ skill in concocting plausible argu¬ 
ments and in throwing dust in the eyes of the masses. 
And the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries shout: 
“Look, instead of socialism, they are giving you red mili¬ 

What a “horrible” crime, indeed! The imperialists of 
the whole world hurled themselves upon the Russian 
Republic in order to crush it, and we began to form an 
army which for the first time in history knows what it is 
fighting for and what it is making sacrifices for, which 
is successfully contending against a numerically superior 
enemy, and which with every month of its resistance on 
an unprecedented scale is bringing nearer the world revo¬ 
lution, and this is denounced as red militarism! 

I repeat, these are either fools to whom no political 
appraisal Qan apply, or else political crooks. 

Everybody knows that this war was forced upon us. We 
brought the old war to a close at the beginning of 1918, 
and did not start a new war. Everybody knows that the 
whiteguards attacked us in the West, South and East, only 
because they were assisted by the Entente, which scattered 
millions right and left. And these advanced countries col¬ 
lected and handed over to the whiteguards the vast stocks 
of war supplies and ammunition left over from the im¬ 
perialist war, for those gentlemen, the millionaires and 
multimillionaires, know that their fate is being decided 
here, that it is here they will perish if they do not crush 
us at once. 


The socialist republic is straining every nerve, is making 
sacrifices and winning victories. And if after a year of civil 
war you look at the map and compare what Soviet Russia 
was in March 1918 and in July 1918—when the German 
imperialists in the West occupied the line laid down by the 
Treaty of Brest, when the Ukraine was under the heel of 
the German imperialists, when the Czechoslovaks, bribed 
by the French and British, lorded it in the East as far as 
Kazan and Simbirsk—if you look at the map today, you 
will see that we have expanded immensely, that we have 
won enormous victories. 

In this situation, only sordid and despicable political 
crooks can use strong language and accuse us of red mili¬ 

Never in history has there been a revolution in which it 
was possible to lay down one’s arms and rest on one’s 
laurels after the victory. Whoever thinks that such revo¬ 
lutions are possible is not only no revolutionary, but the 
worst enemy of the working class. There has never been a 
revolution, even a second-rate one, even a bourgeois revo¬ 
lution in which the only issue was the transfer of power 
from one propertied minority to another. We know of 
examples! The French revolution, against which the old 
powers hurled themselves at the beginning of the nine¬ 
teenth century in order to crush it, we call great precisely 
because it succeeded in rousing the vast masses of the 
people in defence of its gains and they resisted the whole 
world; this was one of its greatest merits. 

Revolutions are subjected to the most serious tests in 
the fire of battle. If you are oppressed and exploited and 
think of throwing off the power of the exploiters, if you 
are determined to carry this to its logical conclusion, you 
must understand that you will have to contend against the 
onslaught of the exploiters of the whole world. If you are 
ready to offer resistance and to make further sacrifices in 
order to hold out in the struggle, you are a revolutionary; 
if not, you will be crushed. 

This is how the question is presented by the history of 
all revolutions. 

The real test to which our revolution is being subjected 
is that we, in a backward country, succeeded in capturing 



power before the others, succeeded in establishing the 
Soviet form of government, the power of the working and 
exploited people. Shall we be able to hold on at least until 
the masses in the other countries make a move? If we are 
not prepared to make fresh sacrifices and do not hold out, 
it will be said that our revolution was historically unjusti¬ 
fied. But democrats in civilised countries who are armed 
to the teeth dread the presence of a hundred or so Bolshe¬ 
viks in a free republic with a hundred million population, 
in the way America does. Bolshevism is so infectious! And 
it turns out that the democrats cannot cope with a hun¬ 
dred immigrants from starving, ruined Russia who might 
talk about Bolshevism! The masses sympathise with us! 
The bourgeoisie have only one path of salvation, and that 
is, while their hand still grasps the sword, while they still 
control the guns, to turn these guns against Soviet Russia 
and to crush her in a few months, because later on nothing 
will crush her. This is the situation we are in; this is what 
determined the military policy of the Council of People’s 
Commissars during the past year; and this is why, point¬ 
ing to the facts, to the results, we have a right to say that 
we have stood the test only because the workers and peas¬ 
ants, though utterly exhausted by war, are creating a 
new army under still more arduous conditions and are 
displaying new heroism. 

Published in pamphlet form 
hy the Petrograd Soviet of Workers’ 
and Red Army Deputies, 

March-April 1919 

Collected Works, Vol. 29, 
pp. 63-68 


MARCH 18-23, 1919 




To begin with foreign policy, it goes without saying that 
the outstanding features here were our relations with 
German imperialism and the Brest peace. I think it is worth 
while dwelling on this question, because its importance is 
not merely historical. I think that the proposal the Soviet 
government made to the Allied powers, or, to put it more 
correctly, our government’s consent to the well-known 
proposal for a conference to be held on Princes Islands 59 
—I think that this proposal, and our reply, reflect, in some 
respects, and in important respects at that, the relations 
with imperialism that we established at the time of the 
Brest peace. That is why I think it important to deal with 
the history of this matter in view of the rapidity with 
which events are occurring. 

When the Brest peace was decided on, the Soviet system 
and even Party development were still in the initial stages. 
You know that at that time our Party as a whole still 
possessed too little experience to determine, even approxi¬ 
mately, how fast we should travel the path we had chosen. 
The chaotic conditions that, as you know, we had to take 
over from the past made it extremely difficult at that time 
to survey events and obtain an exact picture of what was 
going on. Moreover, our extreme isolation from Western 
Europe and all other countries deprived us of the objective 
material necessary to assess the possible rapidity or the 
ways in which the proletarian revolution in the West 
would develop. This complex situation made the question 



of the Brest peace a matter of no little dissension in the 
ranks of our Party. 

But events have proved that this enforced retreat before 
German imperialism, which had taken cover behind an 
extremely oppressive, outrageous and predatory peace, was 
the only correct move in the relations between the young 
socialist republic and world imperialism (one half of world 
imperialism). At that time we, who had just overthrown the 
landowners and the bourgeoisie in Russia, had absolutely 
no choice but to retreat before the forces of world imperial¬ 
ism. Those who condemned this retreat from the point of 
view of a revolutionary were actually supporting a funda¬ 
mentally wrong and non-Marxist position. They had forgot¬ 
ten the conditions, the long and strenuous process of devel¬ 
opment of the Kerensky period, and the enormous pre¬ 
paratory work done in the Soviets before we reached the 
stage when in October, after the severe July defeats, after 
the Kornilov revolt, the vast mass of working people was 
al last ready and determined to overthrow the bourgeoisie, 
and when the organised material forces necessary for this 
purpose had become available. Naturally, anything like 
this was then out of the question on an international scale. 
In view of this, the fight against world imperialism had 
this aim—to continue the work of disintegrating imperial¬ 
ism and of enlightening and uniting the working class, 
which had everywhere begun to stir, but whose actions 
have still not become completely definite. 

Hence, the only correct policy was the one we adopted 
in respect of the Brest peace, although, of course, at the 
time, that policy intensified the enmity of a number of 
petty-bourgeois elements, who are not by any means 
necessarily hostile to socialism under all conditions, or 
in all countries. In this respect history offered us a lesson 
which we must learn thoroughly, for there can be no doubt 
that we shall often be called upon to apply it. This lesson 
is that the attitude the party of the proletariat should 
adopt towards the petty-bourgeois democratic parties, to¬ 
wards those elements, strata, groups and classes which are 
particularly strong and numerous in Russia, and which 
exist in all countries, constitutes an extremely complex 
and difficult problem. Petty-bourgeois elements vacillate 



between the old society and the new. They cannot be the 
motive force of either the old society, or the new. On the 
other hand, they are not bound to the old society to the 
same degree as the landowners and the bourgeoisie. Pat¬ 
riotism is a sentiment bound up with the economic con 
ditions of life of precisely the small proprietors. The bour¬ 
geoisie is more international than the small proprietors. 
We came up against this fact during the period of the 
Brest peace, when the Soviet government set a higher value 
on the world dictatorship of the proletariat and the world 
revolution than on all national sacrifices, burdensome as 
they were. This compelled us to enter into a violent and 
ruthless clash with the petty-bourgeois elements. At that 
time a number of those elements joined forces with the 
bourgeoisie and the landowners against us, although, sub¬ 
sequently, they began to waver. 

The question that several comrades have raised here as 
to our attitude towards the petty-bourgeois parties is dealt 
with extensively in our programme and will, in fact, crop 
up in the discussion of every point of the agenda. In the 
course of our revolution this question has ceased to be an 
abstract and general one, and has become concrete. At the 
time of the Brest peace our duty as internationalists was 
at all costs to help the proletarian elements to strengthen 
and consolidate their positions and this drove the petty- 
bourgeois parties away from us. After the German revo¬ 
lution, as we know, the petty-bourgeois elements again 
began to vacillate. Those events opened the eyes of many 
who, as the proletarian revolution was maturing, had as¬ 
sessed the situation from the point of view of the old type 
of patriotism, and had assessed it not only in a non¬ 
socialist way, but, in general, incorrectly. At the present 
time, owing to the difficult food situation and the war 
which we are still waging against the Entente, a wave of 
vacillation is again sweeping through the petty-bourgeois 
democrats. We were obliged to reckon with these vacilla¬ 
tions before; but now we must all learn a tremendously 
important lesson, namely, that situations never repeat 
themselves in exactly the same form. The new situation 
is far more complex. It can be properly assessed, and our 
policy will be correct, if we draw on the experience of the 



Brest peace. When we consented to the proposal for a 
conference on Princes Islands we knew that we were con¬ 
senting to an extremely harsh peace. On the other hand, 
however, we now know better how the tide of proletarian 
revolution is rising in Western Europe, how unrest is 
changing into conscious discontent, and how the latter is 
giving rise to a world, Soviet, proletarian movement. At 
that time we were groping, guessing when the revolution 
in Europe might break out—we presumed, on the basis 
of our theoretical conviction, that the revolution must 
take place—but today we have a number of facts show¬ 
ing how the revolution is maturing in other countries and 
how the movement began. That is why, in relation to 
Western Europe, in relation to the Entente countries, we 
have, or shall have, to repeat a good deal of what we did 
at the time of the Brest peace. It will be much easier for 
us to do this now that we have the experience of Brest. 
When our Central Committee discussed the question of 
participating in a conference on Princes Islands together 
with the Whites—which in fact amounted to the annexa¬ 
tion of all the territory the Whites then occupied—this 
question of an armistice did not evoke a single voice of 
protest among the proletariat; and that also was the atti¬ 
tude of our Party. At any rate, I did not hear of any dis¬ 
satisfaction, or indignation, from any quarter. The reason 
for this was that our lesson in international politics had 
borne fruit. 

Published in Pravda, 
March-April 1919 

Collected Works , Vol. 29, 
pp. 146-49 





We say that account must be taken of the stage reached 
by the given nation on its way from medievalism to bour¬ 
geois democracy, and from bourgeois democracy to pro¬ 
letarian democracy. That is absolutely correct. All nations 
have the right to self-determination—there is no need to 
speak specially of the Hottentots and the Bushmen. The 
vast majority, most likely nine-tenths of the population 
of the earth, perhaps 95 per cent, come under this 
description, since all countries are on the way from 
medievalism to bourgeois democracy or from bourgeois 
democracy to proletarian democracy. This is an absolutely 
inevitable course. More cannot be said, because it would be 
wrong, because it would not be what actually exists. To 
reject the self-determination of nations and insert the self- 
determination of the working people would be absolutely 
wrong, because this manner of settling the question does 
not reckon with the difficulties, with the zigzag course 
taken by differentiation within nations. In Germany it is 
not proceeding in the same way as in our country—in 
certain respects more rapidly, and in other respects in a 
slower and more sanguinary way. Not a single party in 
our country accepted so monstrous an idea as a combina¬ 
tion of workers’ councils and a Constituent Assembly. And 
yet we have to live side by side with these nations. Now 
Scheidemann’s party is already saying that we want to 
conquer Germany. That is of course ridiculous, nonsensi- 



cal. But the bourgeoisie have their own interests and their 
own press which is shouting this to the whole world in 
hundreds of millions of copies; Wilson, too, is supporting 
this in his own interests. The Bolsheviks, they declare, 
have a large army, and they want, by means of conquest, 
to implant their Bolshevism in Germany. The best people 
in Germany—the Spartacists 60 —told us that the German 
workers are being incited against the Communists; look, 
they are told, how bad things are with the Bolsheviks! And 
we cannot say that things with us are very good. And so 
our enemies in Germany influence the people with the 
argument that the proletarian revolution in Germany would 
result in the same disorders as in Russia. Our disorders are 
a protracted illness. We are contending with desperate dif¬ 
ficulties in creating the proletarian dictatorship in our 
country. As long as the bourgeoisie, or the petty bourgeoi¬ 
sie, or even part of the German workers, are under the 
influence of this bugbear—“the Bolsheviks want to estab¬ 
lish their system by force”—so long will the formula “the 
self-determination of the working people” not help mat¬ 
ters. We must arrange things so that the German traitor- 
socialists will not be able to say that the Bolsheviks are 
trying to impose their universal system, which, as it were, 
can be brought into Berlin on Red Army bayonets. And 
this is what may happen if the principle of the self-deter¬ 
mination of nations is denied. 

Our programme must not speak of the self-determina¬ 
tion of the working people, because that would be wrong. 
It must speak of what actually exists. Since nations are 
at different stages on the road from medievalism to bour¬ 
geois democracy and from bourgeois democracy to prole¬ 
tarian democracy, this thesis of our programme is abso¬ 
lutely correct. With us there have been very many zigzags 
on this road. Every nation must obtain the right to self- 
determination, and that will make the self-determination 
of the working people easier. 

Published in Pravda, 
March-Aprii 1919 

Collected Works, Vol. 29, 
pp. 173-74 


I answer the five questions put to me on condition of 
the fulfilment of the written promise that my answers will 
be printed in full in over a hundred newspapers in the 
United States of America. 

1. The governmental programme of the Soviet Govern¬ 
ment was not a reformist, but a revolutionary one. Reforms 
are concessions obtained from a ruling class that retains 
its rule. Revolution is the overthrow of the ruling class. 
Reformist programmes, therefore, usually consist of many 
items of partial significance. Our revolutionary programme 
consisted properly of one general item—removal of the 
yoke of the landowners and capitalists, the overthrow of 
their power and the emancipation of the working people 
from those exploiters. This programme we have never 
changed. Some partial measures aimed at the realisation 
of the programme have often been subjected to change; 
their enumeration would require a whole volume. I will 
only mention that there is one other general point in our 
governmental programme which has, perhaps, given rise 
to the greatest number of changes of partial measures. 
That point is—the suppression of the exploiters’ resistance. 
After the Revolution of October 25 (November 7), 1917 
we did not close down even the bourgeois newspapers and 
there was no mention of terror at all. We released not 
only many of Kerensky’s ministers, but even Krasnov who 
had made war on us. It was only after the exploiters, i.e., 
the capitalists, had begun developing their resistance that 
we began to crush that resistance systematically, applying 



even terror. This was the proletariat’s response to such 
actions of the bourgeoisie as the conspiracy with the 
capitalists of Germany, Britain, Japan, America and France 
to restore the rule of the exploiters in Russia, the bribery 
of the Czechoslovaks with Anglo-French money, the 
bribery of Mannerheim, Denikin and others with German 
and French money, etc. One of the latest conspiracies 
leading to “a change”—to put it precisely, leading to in¬ 
creased terror against the bourgeoisie in Petrograd—was 
that of the bourgeoisie, acting jointly with the Mensheviks 
and Socialist-Revolutionaries; their conspiracy concerned 
the surrender of Petrograd, the seizure of Krasnaya Gorka 
by officer-conspirators, the bribing by British and French 
capitalists of employees of the Swiss Embassy and of 
many Russian employees, etc. 

2. The activities of our Soviet Republic in Afghanistan, 
India and other Moslem countries outside Russia are the 
same as our activities among the numerous Moslems and 
other non-Russian peoples inside Russia. We have made 
it possible, for instance, for the Bashkirian people to estab¬ 
lish an autonomous republic within Russia, 02 we are doing 
everything possible to help the independent, free develop¬ 
ment of every nationality, the growth and dissemination 
of literature in the native language of each of them, we 
are translating and propagandising our Soviet Constitu¬ 
tion which has the misfortune to be more pleasing to more 
than a thousand million inhabitants of the earth who 
belong to colonial, dependent, oppressed, underprivileged 
nations than the constitutions of the West-European and 
American bourgeois-“democratic” states that perpetuate 
private property in land and capital, i.e., strengthen the 
oppression of the working people of their own countries 
and of hundreds of millions of people in the colonies of 
Asia, Africa, etc., by a small number of “civilised” capital¬ 

3. As far as the United States and Japan are concerned, 
our first political objective is to repulse their shameless, 
criminal, predatory invasion of Russia that serves only to 
enrich their capitalists. We have many times made solemn 
proposals of peace to both these countries, but they have 
not even answered us and continue to make war on us, 


helping Denikin and Kolchak, plundering Murmansk and 
Archangel, ruining and laying waste to, especially, Eastern 
Siberia, where the Russian peasants are offering heroic 
resistance 63 to the capitalist bandits of Japan and the 
United States of America. 

We have one further political and economic objective 
in respect of all peoples—including those of the United 
States and Japan—fraternal alliance with the workers 
and all working people of all countries without exception. 

4. We have, on many occasions, given a precise, clear 
and written exposition of the terms upon which we agree 
to conclude peace with Kolchak, Denikin and Manner- 
heim—for instance to Bullitt 64 who conducted negotiations 
with us (and with me personally in Moscow) on behalf of 
the United States Government, in a letter to Nansen, 65 etc. 
It is not our fault that the governments of the United 
States and other countries are afraid to publish those docu¬ 
ments in full and that they hide the truth from the people. 
I will mention only our basic condition; we are prepared 
to pay all debts to France and other countries provided 
there is a real peace and not peace in words alone, i.e., if 
it is formally signed and ratified by the governments of 
Great Britain, France, the United States, Japan and Italy 
—Denikin, Kolchak, Mannerheim and the others being 
mere pawns in the hands of those governments. 

5. More than anything else I should like to state the 
following to the American public: 

Compared to feudalism, capitalism was an historical 
advance along the road of “liberty”, “equality”, “democra¬ 
cy” and “civilisation”. Nevertheless capitalism was, and 
remains, a system of wage-slavery, of the enslavement of 
millions of working people, workers and peasants, by an 
insignificant minority of modern slave-owners, landowners 
and capitalists. Bourgeois democracy, as compared to feu¬ 
dalism, has changed the form of this economic slavery, has 
created a brilliant screen for it but has not. and could not, 
change its essence. Capitalism and bourgeois democracy are 

The gigantic progress of technology in general, and of 
means of transport in particular, and the tremendous 
growth of capital and banks have resulted in capitalism 



becoming mature and overmature. It has outlived itself. It 
has become the most reactionary hindrance to human prog¬ 
ress. It has become reduced to the absolute power of a 
handful of millionaires and multimillionaires who send 
whole nations into a bloodbath to decide whether the Ger¬ 
man or the Anglo-French group of plunderers is to obtain 
the spoils of imperialism, power over the colonies, finan¬ 
cial “spheres of influence” or “mandates to rule”, etc. 

During the war of 1914-18 tens of millions of people 
were killed or mutilated for that reason and for that reason 
alone. Knowledge of this truth is spreading with indomit¬ 
able force and rapidity among the working people of all 
countries, the more so because the war has everywhere 
caused unparalleled ruin, and because interest on war debts 
has to be paid everywhere , even by the “victor” nations. 
What is this interest? It is a tribute of thousands of mil¬ 
lions to the millionaire gentlemen who were kind enough 
to allow tens of millions of workers and peasants to kill 
and maim one another to settle the question of the division 
of profits by the capitalists. 

The collapse of capitalism is inevitable. The revolution¬ 
ary consciousness of the masses is everywhere growing; 
there are thousands of signs of this. One small sign, un¬ 
important, but impressive to the man in the street is the 
novels written by Henri Barbusse (Le Feu, Clart&) who 
was a peaceful, modest, law-abiding petty bourgeois, a 
philistine, a man in the street, when he went to the war. 

The capitalists, the bourgeoisie, can at “best” put off the 
victory of socialism in one country or another at the cost 
of slaughtering further hundreds of thousands of workers 
and peasants. But they cannot save capitalism. The Soviet 
Republic has come to take the place of capitalism, the Re¬ 
public which gives power to the working people and only 
to the working people, which entrusts the proletariat with 
the guidance of their liberation, which abolishes private 
property in land, factories and other means of production, 
because this private property is the source of the exploi¬ 
tation of the many by the few, the source of mass poverty, 
the source of predatory wars between nations, wars that 
enrich only the capitalists. 

The victory of the world Soviet Republic is certain. 


A brief illustration in conclusion: the American bour¬ 
geoisie are deceiving the people by boasting of the liberty, 
equality and democracy of their country. But neither this 
nor any other bourgeoisie nor any government in the 
world can accept, it is afraid to accept, a contest with our 
government on the basis of real liberty, equality and de¬ 
mocracy; let us suppose that an agreement ensured our 
government and any other government freedom to ex¬ 
change ... pamphlets published in the name of the govern¬ 
ment in any language and containing the text of the laws 
of the given country, the text of its constitution, and an 
explanation of its superiority over the others. 

Not one bourgeois government in the world would dare 
conclude such a peaceful, civilised, free, equal, democratic 
treaty with us. 

Why? Because all of them, with the exception of Soviet 
governments, keep in power by the oppression and decep¬ 
tion of the masses. But the great war of 1914-18 exposed 
the great deception. 


July 20, 1919 

Collected Works, Vol. 29, 
pp. 515-19 

Pravda No. 162, 
July 25, 1919 




About a year ago, in my letter to the American workers 
(dated August 20th, 1918) I exposed to you the situation 
in Soviet Russia and the problems facing the latter. That 
was before the German revolution. The events which since 
took place in the world’s history proved how right the 
Bolsheviks were in their estimation of the imperialist war 
of 1914-18 in general and of the Entente imperialism in 
particular. As for the Soviet power it has become familiar 
and dear to the minds and hearts of the working masses 
of the whole world. Everywhere the working people, in 
spite of the influence of the old leaders with their chauvin¬ 
ism and opportunism penetrating them through and 
through, become aware of the rottenness of the bourgeois 
parliaments and of the necessity of the Soviet power, the 
power of the working people, the dictatorship of the 
proletariat, for the sake of the emancipation of humanity 
from the yoke of capital. And Soviet power will win in 
the whole world, however furiously, however frantically 
the bourgeoisie of all countries rages and storms. The 
bourgeoisie inundates Russia with blood, waging war upon 
us and inciting against us the counter-revolutionaries, 
those who wish the yoke of capital to be restored. The 
bourgeoisie inflicts upon the working masses of Russia 
unprecedented sufferings through the blockade and through 
the help it gives do counter-revolution, but we have already 



defeated Kolchak and we are carrying on the war against 
Denikin with the firm assurance of our coming victory. 

September 23, 1919 

• * * 

N. Lenin 

I am often asked whether those American opponents of 
the war against Russia—not only workers, but mainly 
bourgeois—are right, who expect from us, after peace is 
concluded, not only resumption of trade relations, but 
also the possibility of receiving concessions in Russia. I 
repeat once more that they are right. A durable peace 
would be such a relief to the working people of Russia 
that they would undoubtedly agree to certain concessions 
being granted. The granting of concessions under reason¬ 
able terms is desirable also for us, as one of the means of 
attracting into Russia, during the period of the coexistence 
side by side of socialist and capitalist states, the technical 
help of the countries which are more advanced in this 

N. Lenin 

September 23, 1919 

Published in English Collected Works, Vol. 30, 

on December 27, 1919 in the PP- 38-39 

magazine Soviet Russia No. 30 

First published in Russian 
in Pravda No. 308, 

November 7, 1930 



October 5, 1919 

I beg to apologise for my bad English. I am glad to 
answer your few questions. 

1. What is the present policy of the Soviet Government on the 
question of peace? 

2. What, in general outline, are the peace terms put forward by 
Soviet Russia? 

Our peace policy is the former, that is, we have accepted 
the peace proposition of Mr. Bullitt. We have never 
changed our peace conditions (question 2), which are 
formulated with Mr. Bullitt. 

We have many times officially proposed peace to the 
Entente before coming of Mr. Bullitt. 

3. Is the Soviet Government prepared to guarantee absolute non¬ 
intervention in the internal affairs of foreign states? 

We are willing to guarantee it. 

4: Is the Soviet Government prepared to prove that it represents 
the majority of the Russian people? 

Yes, the Soviet Government is the most democratic 
government of all governments in the world. We are willing 
to prove it. 

5. What is the position of the Soviet Government in respect of an 
economic understanding with America? 


We are decidedly for an economic understanding with 
America—with all countries but especially with America. 

If necessary we can give you the full text of our peace 
conditions as formulated by our government with 
Mr. Bullitt. 

Wl. Oulianoff {N. Lenin) 

Published in the Chicago 
Daily News No. 257, 

October 27, 1919 

First published in Russian in 1942 

Collected WorAs, Vol. 30, 
pp. 50-51 


NOVEMBER 22, 1919 

Comrades, I am very glad of the opportunity to greet 
this Congress of Communist comrades representing Moslem 
organisations of the East, and to say a few words about the 
situation now obtaining in Russia and throughout the 
world. The subject of my address is current affairs, and 
it seems to me that the most essential aspects of this ques¬ 
tion at present are the attitude of the peoples of the East 
to imperialism, and the revolutionary movement among 
those peoples. It is self-evident that this revolutionary 
movement of the peoples of the East can now develop 
effectively, can reach a successful issue, only in direct 
association with the revolutionary struggle of our Soviet 
Republic against international imperialism. Owing to a 
number of circumstances, among them the backwardness 
of Russia and her vast area, and the fact that she con¬ 
stitutes a frontier between Europe and Asia, between the 
West and the East, we had to bear the whole brunt—and 
we regard that as a great honour—of being the pioneers 
of the world struggle against imperialism. Consequently, 
the whole course of development in the immediate future 
presages a still broader and more strenuous struggle 
against international imperialism, and will inevitably be 
linked with the struggle of the Soviet Republic against the 
forces of united imperialism—of Germany, France, Britain 
and the U.S.A. 


As regards the military aspect of the matter, you know 
how favourable our situation now is on all the fronts. I 
shall not dwell in detail on this question; I shall only say 
that the Civil War which was forced upon us by interna¬ 
tional imperialism has in two years inflicted incalculable 
hardship upon the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet 
Republic, and imposed upon the peasants and workers a 
burden so intolerable that it often seemed they would not 
be able to endure it. But at the same time, because of its 
brute violence, because of the ruthlessly brutal onslaught 
of our so-called allies, turned wild beasts, who robbed us 
even before the socialist revolution, this war has performed 
a miracle and turned people weary of fighting and 
seemingly incapable of bearing another war into warriors 
who have not only withstood the war for two years but 
are bringing it to a victorious end. The victories we are now 
gaining over Kolchak, Yudenich and Denikin signify the 
advent of a new phase in the history of the struggle of 
world imperialism against the countries and nations which 
have risen up to fight for their emancipation. In this 
respect, the two years of our Civil War have fully confirmed 
what has long been known to history—that the character 
of a war and its success depend chiefly upon the internal 
regime of the country that goes to war, that war is a 
reflection of the internal policy conducted by the given 
country before the war. All this is inevitably reflected in 
the prosecution of a war. 

Which class waged the war, and is continuing to wage 
it, is a very important question. Only due to our Civil War 
being waged by workers and peasants who have emanci¬ 
pated themselves, and to its being a continuation of the 
political struggle for the emancipation of the working 
people from the capitalists of their own country and of 
the whole world—only thanks to this were people to be 
found in such a backward country as Russia, worn out as 
she was by four years of imperialist war, who were 
strong-willed enough to carry on that war during two years 
of incredible and unparalleled hardship and difficulty. 

This was very strikingly illustrated in the history of 
the Civil War in the case of Kolchak. Kolchak was an 
enemy who had the assistance of all the world’s strongest 



Powers; he had a railway which was protected by some 
hundred thousand foreign troops, including the finest 
troops of the world imperialists, such as the Japanese, for 
example, who had been trained for the imperialist war, 
but took practically no part in it and therefore suffered 
little; Kolchak had the backing of the Siberian peasants, 
who were the most prosperous and had never known serf¬ 
dom, and therefore, naturally, were farthest of all from 
communism. It seemed that Kolchak was an invincible 
force, because his troops were the advance guard of in¬ 
ternational imperialism. To this day, Japanese and Czech¬ 
oslovak troops and the troops of a number of other im¬ 
perialist nations are operating in Siberia. Nevertheless, 
the more than a year’s experience of Kolchak’s rule over 
Siberia and her vast natural resources, which was at first 
supported by the socialist parties of the Second Interna¬ 
tional, by the Mensheviks and the Socialist-Revolutiona¬ 
ries, who set up the Constituent Assembly Committee 67 
front, and which therefore, under these conditions, from 
the standpoint of the man in the street and of the ordinary 
course of history, appeared to be firm and invincible—that 
experience actually revealed the following. The farther 
Kolchak advanced into the heart of Russia, the more he 
wore himself out, and in the end we have witnessed Soviet 
Russia’s complete triumph over Kolchak. Here we un¬ 
doubtedly have practical proof that the united forces of 
workers and peasants who have been emancipated from 
the capitalist yoke can perform real miracles. Here we have 
practical proof that when a revolutionary war really does 
attract and interest the working and oppressed people, 
when it makes them conscious that they are fighting the 
exploiters—such a revolutionary war engenders the 
strength and ability to perform miracles. 

I think that what the Red Army has accomplished, its 
struggle, and the history of its victory, will be of colossal, 
epochal significance for all the peoples of the East. It will 
show them that, weak as they may be, and invincible as 
may seem the power of the European oppressors, who in 
the struggle employ all the marvels of technology and of 
the military art—nevertheless, a revolutionary war waged 
by oppressed peoples, if it really succeeds in arousing the 


millions of working and exploited people, harbours such 
potentialities, such miracles, that the emancipation of the 
peoples of the East is now quite practicable, from the 
standpoint not only of the prospects of the international 
revolution, but also of the direct military experience ac¬ 
quired in Asia, in Siberia, the experience of the Soviet 
Republic, which has suffered the armed invasion of all 
the powerful imperialist countries. 

Furthermore, the experience of the Civil War in Russia 
has shown us and the Communists of all countries that, in 
the crucible of civil war, the development of revolutionary 
enthusiasm is accompanied by a powerful inner cohesion. 
War tests all the economic and organisational forces of a 
nation. In the final analysis, infinitely hard as the war has 
been for the workers and peasants, who are suffering 
famine and cold, it may be said on the basis of these two 
years’ experience that we are winning and will continue 
to win, because we have a hinterland, and a strong one, 
because, despite famine and cold, the peasants and work¬ 
ers stand together, have grown strong, and answer every 
heavy blow with a greater cohesion of their forces and 
increased economic might. And it is this alone that has 
made possible the victories over Kolchak, Yudenich and 
their allies, the strongest powers in the world. The past 
two years have shown, on the one hand, that a revolu¬ 
tionary war can be developed, and, on the other hand, 
that the Soviet system is growing stronger under the heavy 
blows of the foreign invasion, the aim of which is to de¬ 
stroy quickly the revolutionary centre, the republic of 
workers and peasants who have dared to declare war on 
international imperialism. But instead of destroying the 
workers and peasants of Russia, these heavy blows have 
served to harden them. 

That is the chief lesson, the chief content of the present 
period. We are on the eve of decisive victories over Deni¬ 
kin, the last enemy left on our soil. We feel strong and 
may reiterate a thousand times over that we are not mis¬ 
taken when we say that internally the Republic has be¬ 
come consolidated, and that we shall emerge from the war 
against Denikin very much stronger and better prepared 
for the task of erecting the socialist edifice—to which we 




have been able to devote all too little time and energy 
during the Civil War, but to which, now that we are setting 
foot on a free road, we shall undoubtedly be able to de¬ 
vote ourselves entirely. 

In Western Europe we see the decay of imperialism. 
You know that a year ago it seemed even to the German 
socialists, and to the vast majority of socialists—who did 
not understand the state of affairs—that what was in 
progress was a struggle of two world imperialist groups, 
and they believed that this struggle constituted the whole 
of history, that there was no force capable of producing 
anything else. It seemed to them that even socialists had 
no alternative but to join sides with one of the groups of 
powerful world predators. That is how it seemed at the 
close of October 1918. But we find that in the year that 
has since elapsed world history has witnessed unparal¬ 
leled events, profound and far-reaching events, and these 
have opened the eyes of many socialists who during the 
imperialist war were patriots and justified their conduct 
on the plea that they were faced with an enemy; they jus¬ 
tified their alliance with the British and French imperial¬ 
ists on the grounds that these were supposedly bringing 
delivery from German imperialism. See how many illusions 
were shattered by that war! We are witnessing the decay 
of German imperialism, a decay which has led not only 
to a republican, but even to a socialist revolution. You know 
that in Germany today the class struggle has become still 
more acute and that civil war is drawing nearer and near¬ 
er—a war of the German proletariat against the German 
imperialists, who have adopted republican colours, but who 
remain imperialists. 

Everyone knows that the social revolution is maturing 
in Western Europe by leaps and bounds, and that the same 
thing is happening in America and in Britain, the countries 
ostensibly representing culture and civilisation, victors 
over the Huns, the German imperialists. Yet when it came 
to the Treaty of Versailles, everyone saw that it was a 
hundred times more rapacious than the Treaty of Brest 
which the German robbers forced upon us, and that it was 
the heaviest blow the capitalists and imperialists of those 
luckless victor countries could possibly have struck at 


themselves. The Treaty of Versailles opened the eyes of 
the people of the victor nations, and showed that in the 
case of Britain and France, even though they are democrat¬ 
ic states, we have before us not representatives of culture 
and civilisation, but countries ruled by imperialist preda¬ 
tors. The internal struggle among these predators is devel¬ 
oping so swiftly that we may rejoice in the knowledge 
that the Treaty of Versailles is only a seeming victory for 
the jubilant imperialists, and that in reality it signifies the 
bankruptcy of the entire imperialist world and the reso¬ 
lute abandonment by the working people of those social¬ 
ists who during the war allied themselves with the repre¬ 
sentatives of decaying imperialism and defended one of 
the groups of belligerent predators. The eyes of the work¬ 
ing people have been opened because the Treaty of Ver¬ 
sailles was a rapacious peace and showed that France and 
Britain had actually fought Germany in order to strength¬ 
en their rule over the colonies and to enhance their im¬ 
perialist might. That internal struggle grows broader as 
time goes on. Today I saw a wireless message from London 
dated November 21, in which American journalists—men 
who cannot be suspected of sympathising with revolution¬ 
aries—say that in France an unprecedented outburst of 
hatred towards the Americans is to be observed, because 
the Americans refuse to ratify the Treaty of Versailles. 

Britain and France are victors, but they are up to their 
ears in debt to America, who has decided that the French 
and the British may consider themselves victors as much 
as they like, but that she is going to skim the cream and 
exact usurious interest for her assistance during the war; 
and the guarantee of this is to be the American Navy 
which is now being built and is overtaking the British Navy 
in size. And the crudeness of the Americans’ rapacious im¬ 
perialism may be seen from the fact that American agents 
are buying white slaves, women and girls, and shipping 
them to America for the development of prostitution. Just 
think, free, cultured America supplying white slaves for 
brothels! Conflicts with American agents are occurring in 
Poland and Belgium. That is a tiny illustration of what is 
taking place on a vast scale in every little country which 
received assistance from the Entente. Take Poland, for 



instance. You find American agents and profiteers going 
there and buying up all the wealth of Poland, who boasts 
that she is now an independent power. Poland is being 
bought up by American agents. There is not a factory or 
branch of industry which is not in the pockets of the 
Americans. The Americans have become so brazen that 
they are beginning to enslave that “great and free victor”, 
France, who was formerly a country of usurers, but is 
now deep in debt to America, because she has lost her 
economic strength, and has not enough grain or coal of 
her own and cannot develop her material resources on a 
large scale, while America insists that the tribute be paid 
unreservedly and in full. It is thus becoming increasingly 
apparent that France, Britain and other powerful coun¬ 
tries are economically bankrupt. In the French elections 
the Clericals have gained the upper hand. The French 
people, who were deceived into devoting all their strength 
supposedly to the defence of freedom and democracy 
against Germany, have now been rewarded with an intermi¬ 
nable debt, with the sneers of the rapacious American im¬ 
perialists and, on top of it, with a Clerical majority con¬ 
sisting of representatives of the most savage reaction. 

The situation all over the world has become immeasur¬ 
ably more complicated. Our victory over Kolchak and 
Yudenich, those lackeys of international capital, is a big 
one,* but far bigger, though not so evident, is the victory 
we are gaining on an international scale. That victory con¬ 
sists in the internal decay of imperialism, which is unable 
to send its troops against us. The Entente tried it, but to no 
purpose, because its troops become demoralised when they 
contact our troops and acquaint themselves with our Russian 
Soviet Constitution, translated into their languages. 
Despite the influence of the leaders of putrid socialism, 
our Constitution will always win the sympathy of the 
working people. The word “Soviet” is now understood by 
everybody, and the Soviet Constitution has been translated 
into all languages and is known to every worker. He knows 
that it is the constitution of working people, the political 
system of working people who are calling for victory over 
international capital, that it is a triumph we have achieved 
over the international imperialists. This victory of ours 


has had its repercussions in all imperialist countries, since 
we have deprived them of their own troops, won them 
over, deprived them of the possibility of using those troops 
against Soviet Russia. 

They tried to wage war with the troops of other coun¬ 
tries—Finland, Poland, and Latvia—but nothing came of 
it. British Minister Churchill, speaking in the House of 
Commons several weeks ago, boasted—and it was cabled 
all over the world—that a campaign of fourteen nations 
against Soviet Russia had been organised, and that this 
would result in victory over Russia by the New Year. And 
it is true that many nations participated in it—Finland, 
the Ukraine, Poland, Georgia, as well as the Czecho¬ 
slovaks, the Japanese, the French, the British, and the Ger¬ 
mans. But we know what came of it! We know that the 
Estonians left Yudenich’s forces in the lurch; and now a 
fierce controversy is going on in the press because the 
Estonians do not want to help him, while Finland, much 
as her bourgeoisie wanted it, has not assisted Yudenich 
either. Thus the second attempt to attack us has likewise 
failed. The first stage was the dispatch by the Entente of 
its own troops, equipped according to all the rules of 
military technique, so that it seemed they would defeat the 
Soviet Republic. They have already withdrawn from the 
Caucasus, Archangel and the Crimea; they still remain in 
Murmansk, as the Czechoslovaks do in Siberia, but only 
as isolated groups. The first attempt of the Entente to de¬ 
feat us with its own forces ended in victory for us. The 
second attempt consisted in launching against us nations 
which are our neighbours, and which are entirely depend¬ 
ent financially on the Entente, and in trying to force 
them to crush us, as a nest of socialism. But that attempt, 
too, ended in failure: it turned out that not one of these 
little countries is capable of waging such a war. What is 
more, hatred of the Entente has taken firm root in every 
little country. If Finland did not set out to capture Petro- 
grad when Yudenich had already captured Krasnoye Selo, 
it was because she hesitated, realising that she could live 
independently side by side with Soviet Russia, but could 
not live in peace with the Entente. All little nations have 
felt that. It is felt in Finland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Po- 



land, where chauvinism is rampant, but where there is 
hatred of the Entente, which is expanding its exploitation 
in those countries. And now, accurately assessing the 
course of developments, we may say without exaggera¬ 
tion that not only the first, but also the second stage of the 
international war against the Soviet Republic has failed. 
All that remains for us to do now is to defeat Denikin’s 
forces, and they are already half-defeated. 

Such is the present Russian and international situation, 
which I have summarised briefly in my address. Permit 
me, in conclusion, to say something about the situation 
that is developing in respect of the nationalities of the 
East. You are representatives of the communist organi¬ 
sations and Communist Parties of various Eastern peo¬ 
ples. I must say that the Russian Bolsheviks have succeed¬ 
ed in forcing a breach in the old imperialism, in undertak¬ 
ing the exceedingly difficult, but, also exceedingly noble 
task of blazing new paths of revolution, whereas you, the 
representatives of the working people of the East, have 
before you a task that is still greater and newer. It is 
becoming quite clear that the socialist revolution which is 
impending for the whole world will not be merely the vic¬ 
tory of the proletariat of each country over its own bour¬ 
geoisie. That would be possible if revolutions came easily 
and swiftly. We know that the imperialists will not allow 
this, that all countries are armed against their domestic 
Bolshevism and that their one thought is how to defeat 
Bolshevism at home. That is why in every country a civil 
war is brewing in which the old socialist compromisers 
are enlisted on the side of the bourgeoisie. Hence, the so¬ 
cialist revolution will not be solely, or chiefly, a struggle 
of the revolutionary proletarians in each country against 
their bourgeoisie—no, it will be a struggle of all the impe¬ 
rialist-oppressed colonies and countries, of all dependent 
countries, against international imperialism. Characterising 
the approach of the world social revolution in the Party 
Programme we adopted last March, we said that the civil 
war of the working people against the imperialists and 
exploiters in all the advanced countries is beginning to be 
combined with national wars against international impe¬ 
rialism. That is confirmed by the course of the revolution, 


and will be more and more confirmed as time goes on. It 
will be the same in the East. 

We know that in the East the masses will rise as in¬ 
dependent participants, as builders of a new life, because 
hundreds of millions of the people belong to dependent, 
underprivileged nations, which until now have been objects 
of international imperialist policy, and have only existed as 
material to fertilise capitalist culture and civilisation. And 
when they talk of handing out mandates for colonies, we 
know very well that it means handing out mandates for 
spoliation and plunder—handing out to an insignificant 
section of the world’s population the right to exploit the 
majority of the population of the globe. That majority, 
which up till then had been completely outside the orbit 
of historical progress, because it could not constitute an 
independent revolutionary force, ceased, as we know, to 
play such a passive role at the beginning of the twentieth 
century. We know that 1905 was followed by revolutions 
in Turkey, Persia and China, and that a revolutionary 
movement developed in India. The imperialist war like¬ 
wise contributed to the growth of the revolutionary 
movement, because the European imperialists had to enlist 
whole colonial regiments in their struggle. The imperialist 
war aroused the East also and drew its peoples into inter¬ 
national politics. Britain and France armed colonial peo¬ 
ples and helped them to familiarise themselves with mili¬ 
tary technique and up-to-date machines. That knowledge 
they will use against the imperialist gentry. The period of 
the awakening of the East in the contemporary revolu¬ 
tion is being succeeded by a period in which all the East¬ 
ern peoples will participate in deciding the destiny of the 
whole world, so as not to be simply objects of the enrich¬ 
ment of others. The peoples of the East are becoming alive 
to the need for practical action, the need for every nation 
to take part in shaping the destiny of all mankind. 

That is why I think that in the history of the develop¬ 
ment of the world revolution—which, judging by its be¬ 
ginning, will continue for many years and will demand 
much effort—that in the revolutionary struggle, in the 
revolutionary movement you will be called upon to play a 
big part and to merge with our struggle against interna- 



tional imperialism. Your participation in the internation¬ 
al revolution will confront you with a complicated and 
difficult task, the accomplishment of which will serve as 
the foundation for our common success, because here the 
majority of the people for the first time begin to act inde¬ 
pendently and will be an active factor in the fight to over¬ 
throw international imperialism. 

Most of the Eastern peoples are in a worse position than 
the most backward country in Europe—Russia. But in our 
struggle against feudal survivals and capitalism, we uc- 
ceeded in uniting the peasants and workers of Russia; and 
it was because the peasants and workers united against 
capitalism and feudalism that our victory was so easy. 
Here contact with the peoples of the East is particularly 
important, because the majority of the Eastern peoples 
are typical representatives of the working people—not 
workers who have passed through the school of capitalist 
factories, but typical representatives of the working and 
exploited peasant masses who are victims of medieval op¬ 
pression. The Russian revolution showed how the proletar¬ 
ians, after defeating capitalism and uniting with the vast 
diffuse mass of working peasants, rose up victoriously 
against medieval oppression. Our Soviet Republic must now 
muster all the awakening peoples of the East and, together 
with them, wage a struggle against international imperial¬ 

In this respect you are confronted with a task which 
has not previously confronted the Communists of the 
world: relying upon the general theory and practice of 
communism, you must adapt yourselves to specific con¬ 
ditions such as do not exist in the European countries; 
you must be able to apply that theory and practice to 
conditions in which the bulk of the population are peas¬ 
ants, and in which the task is to wage a struggle against 
medieval survivals and not against capitalism. That is a 
difficult and specific task, but a very thankful one, be¬ 
cause masses that have taken no part in the struggle up 
to now are being drawn into it, and also because the or¬ 
ganisation of communist cells in the East gives you an 
opportunity to maintain the closest contact with the Third 
International. You must find specific forms for this' alliance 


of the foremost proletarians of the world with the labour¬ 
ing and exploited masses of the East whose conditions are 
in many cases medieval. We have accomplished on a small 
scale in our country what you will do on a big scale and 
in big countries. And that latter task you will, I hope, 
perform with success. Thanks to the communist organisa¬ 
tions in the East, of which you here are the representa¬ 
tives, you have contact with the advanced revolutionary 
proletariat. Your task is to continue to ensure that com¬ 
munist propaganda is carried on in every country in a lan¬ 
guage the people understand. 

It is self-evident that final victory can be won only by 
the proletariat of all the advanced countries of the world, 
and we, the Russians, are beginning the work which the 
British, French or German proletariat will consolidate. But 
w^e see that they will not be victorious without the aid of 
the working people of all the oppressed colonial nations, 
first and foremost, of Eastern nations. We must realise 
that the transition to communism cannot be accomplished 
by the vanguard alone. The task is to arouse the working 
masses to revolutionary activity, to independent action 
and to organisation, regardless of the level they have 
reached; to translate the true communist doctrine, which 
was intended for the Communists of the more advanced 
countries, into the language of every people; to carry out 
those practical tasks which must be carried out immediate¬ 
ly, and to join the proletarians of other countries in a 
common struggle. 

Such are the problems whose solution you will not find 
in any communist book, but will find in the common strug¬ 
gle begun by Russia. You will have to tackle that problem 
and solve it through your own independent experience. In 
that you will be assisted, on the one hand, by close alliance 
with the vanguard of the working people of other coun¬ 
tries, and, on the other, by ability to find the right approach 
to the peoples of the East whom you here represent. You 
will have to base yourselves on the bourgeois nationalism 
which is awakening, and must awaken, among those peo¬ 
ples, and which has its historical justification. At the same 
time, you must find your way to the working and exploit¬ 
ed masses of every country and tell them in a language 




they understand that their only hope of emancipation lies 
in the victory of the international revolution, and that the 
international proletariat is the only ally of all the hun¬ 
dreds of millions of the working and exploited peoples of 
the East. 

Such is the immense task which confronts you, and 
which, thanks to the era of revolution and the growth of 
the revolutionary movement—of that there can be no 
doubt—will, by the joint efforts of the communist organi¬ 
sations of the East, be successfully accomplished and 
crowned by complete victory over international imperial¬ 

Bulletin of the C.C., 
R.C.P. {B.) No. 9, 
December 20, 1919 

Collected Works, Vol. 30, 
pp. 151-62 


OF THE R.C.P.(B.) 

DECEMBER 2-4, 1919 


The Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic wishes 
to live in peace with all peoples and devote all its efforts 
to internal development so as to put production, transport 
and government affairs in order on the basis of the Soviet 
system; this has so far been prevented by the intervention 
of the Entente and the starvation blockade. 

The workers’ and peasants’ government has made 
repeated peace proposals to the Entente powers—the 
message from the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs 
to the American representative, Mr. Poole, on August 5, 
1918; to President Wilson on October 24, 1918; to all En¬ 
tente governments through representatives of neutral 
countries on November 3, 1918; a message from the Sixth 
All-Russia Congress of Soviets on November 7, 1918; Lit¬ 
vinov’s Note in Stockholm to all Entente representatives 
on December 23, 1918; then there were the messages of 
January 12, January 17 and February 4, 1919, and the 
draft treaty drawn up jointly with Bullitt on March 12, 
1919; and a message through Nansen on May 7, 1919. 

The Seventh Congress of Soviets fully approves these 
many steps taken by the Council of People’s Commissars 
and the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, once 
more confirms its lasting desire for peace and again pro¬ 
poses to the Entente powers, Britain, France, the United 
States of America, Italy and Japan, individually and col¬ 
lectively, to begin immediately negotiations on peace; the 
Congress instructs the All-Russia Central Executive Com- 



mittee, the Council of People’s Commissars and the Peo¬ 
ple’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs to continue this 
peace policy systematically (or: to continue this peace 
policy systematically, taking all appropriate measures to 
ensure its success). 

Written on December 2, 1919 
First published in 1932 

Collected Works, Vol. 30, 
pp. 191-92 


DECEMBER 5-9, 1919 



When speaking of the political results and lessons of 
our activities, the Soviet Republic’s international position 
naturally takes first place. Both prior to October and dur¬ 
ing the October Revolution, we always said that we re¬ 
gard ourselves and can only regard ourselves as one of the 
contingents of the international proletarian army, a con¬ 
tingent which came to the fore, not because of its level 
of development and preparedness, but because of Rus¬ 
sia’s exceptional conditions; we always said that the vic¬ 
tory of the socialist revolution, therefore, can only be re¬ 
garded as final when it becomes the victory of the prole¬ 
tariat in at least several advanced countries. It was in this 
respect that we experienced the greatest difficulties. 

Our banking on the world revolution, if you can call it 
that, has on the whole been fully justified. But from the 
point of view of the speed of its development we have 
endured an exceptionally difficult period; we have seen 
for ourselves that the revolution’s development in more 
advanced countries has proved to be considerably slower, 
considerably more difficult, considerably more complicat¬ 
ed. This should not surprise us for it was naturally easier 
for a country such as Russia to start a socialist revolution 
than it is for the advanced countries. But, in any case, 
this slower, more complicated, more zigzag development 
of the socialist revolution in Western Europe has burdened 



us with incredible difficulties. The question that pri¬ 
marily comes to mind is: how was it possible for such a 
miracle to have occurred, for Soviet power to have held 
out for two years in a backward, ruined and war-weary 
country, in the face of the stubborn struggle waged against 
it first by German imperialism, which at that time was 
considered omnipotent, and then by Entente imperialism, 
which a year ago settled accounts with Germany, had no 
rivals and lorded it over all the countries on earth? From 
the point of view of a simple calculation of the forces in¬ 
volved, from the point of view of a military assessment of 
these forces, it really is a miracle, because the Entente was 
and continues to be immeasurably stronger than we are. 
Nevertheless, the year under review is noteworthy most 
of all for our having won a tremendous victory, so great 
a victory that I think we may say without exaggeration 
that our main difficulties are already behind us. No matter 
how great the dangers and difficulties in store for us, the 
main ones are evidently behind us. We must understand 
the reasons for this, and, what is most important, must 
correctly determine our future policy, since the future 
will almost certainly bring many further attempts by the 
Entente at intervention, and possibly a rebirth of the pre¬ 
vious predatory alliance between international and Rus¬ 
sian capitalists to restore the power of the landowners and 
capitalists, to overthrow Soviet rule in Russia, in short, an 
alliance pursuing the old aim of extinguishing the centre 
of the world socialist conflagration—the Russian Socialist 
Federative Soviet Republic. 

Examining the history of the Entente intervention and 
its political lesson for us from this point of view, I would 
say that it could be divided into three main stages, each 
of which has successively given us full and lasting victory. 

The first stage, naturally the most convenient and easi¬ 
est for the Entente countries, involved their attempt to 
settle matters with Soviet Russia by using their own 
troops. Of course, after the Entente countries had defeat¬ 
ed Germany they had armies of millions of men who had 
not yet openly declared for peace and who did not imme¬ 
diately recover from the fright given them by the bogey 
of German imperialism, which had been used to scare 


them in all the Western countries. At that time, of course, 
from the military point of view, and from the point of 
view of foreign policy, it would have been easy for the 
Entente countries to take a tenth part of their armies and 
dispatch them to Russia. Note that they completely domi¬ 
nated at sea, that they had complete naval supremacy. 
Troop transportation and supplies were always completely 
under their control. Had the Entente countries, who hated 
us as only the bourgeoisie can hate the socialist revolution, 
then been able to fling even a tenth part of their armies 
against us with any success, there cannot be the slightest 
doubt that Soviet Russia would have been doomed and 
would have met the same fate as Hungary. 

Why did the Entente countries fail to achieve this? They 
landed troops in Murmansk. The drive into Siberia was 
undertaken with the aid of Entente troops, and Japanese 
troops continue to hold a distant slice of Eastern Siberia, 
while there were military units, even if not big ones, from 
all the Entente states in all parts of Western Siberia. Then 
French troops were landed in the South of Russia. That 
was the first stage of international intervention in our 
affairs, the first attempt, so to speak, to crush the Soviets 
with troops from the Entente’s own countries, i.e., with 
the aid of workers and peasants of the more advanced 
countries, who were splendidly equipped; generally speak¬ 
ing the Entente countries lacked nothing in the way of 
technical and material means for the campaign. There were 
no obstacles confronting them. How, then, are we to ex¬ 
plain the failure of that attempt? It ended in the Entente 
countries having to withdraw their troops, because they 
proved incapable of waging a struggle against revolution¬ 
ary Soviet Russia. That, comrades, has always been our 
main and principal argument. From the very outset of the 
revolution we have said that we constitute a party of the 
international proletariat, and that, however great the dif¬ 
ficulties facing the revolution, there would come a time 
when, at the most decisive moment, the sympathy, the 
solidarity of the workers oppressed by international im¬ 
perialism would make itself felt. For this we were accused 
of being Utopians. But experience has shown that while we 
cannot always and in all cases rely on action by the pro- 



letariat, at any rate we may say that during these two 
years of the world’s history we have been proved correct 
a thousand times. The attempt by the British and French 
to crush Soviet Russia with their own troops, an attempt 
that promised them certain and very easy success in a 
minimum of time, ended in failure: the British troops have 
left Archangel, and the French troops that had landed in 
the South have all been sent home. Despite the blockade, 
despite the ring drawn around us, news does reach us from 
Western Europe, we do get British and French newspa¬ 
pers, even if only sporadically, from which we learn that 
letters sent by British soldiers from Archangel Region 
have somehow reached Britain and been published there. 
We know that the name of the Frenchwoman, Comrade 
Jeanne Labourbe, who engaged in communist activity 
among French soldiers and workers and was shot in 
Odessa, became known to the entire French proletariat 
and became a battle-cry, a name around which all French 
workers united for action against international imperial¬ 
ism despite the apparently insurmountable factional trends 
of syndicalism. The words of Comrade Radek, who fortu¬ 
nately, as today’s reports state, has been liberated by 
Germany and whom we shall perhaps see soon, that the 
soil of Russia, aflame with the fire of revolution, would 
prove inaccessible to the Entente troops—these words, 
which seemed to be just a writer’s flight of fancy, were 
actually realised. Despite all our backwardness, despite all 
the burden of our struggle, the troops of Britain and France 
proved incapable of fighting us on our own soil. The 
result was a victory for us. The first time that they tried 
to send massive military forces against us—and without 
them victory is impossible—the only result was that, 
thanks to their correct class instinct, the French and 
British soldiers brought home from Russia the very ulcer 
of Bolshevism that the German imperialists were fighting 
when they expelled our envoys from Berlin. They thought 
they would protect themselves in this way against the 
ulcer of Bolshevism, which now spreads over the whole of 
Germany in the shape of a strengthened labour movement. 
The victory we won in compelling the evacuation of the 
British and French troops was the greatest of our victo- 


ries over the Entente countries. We deprived them of their 
soldiers. Our response to the unlimited military and tech¬ 
nical superiority of the Entente countries was to deprive 
them of it through the solidarity of the working people 
against the imperialist governments. 

This revealed how superficial and uncertain it is to judge 
these so-called democratic countries by accepted criteria. 
Their parliaments have stable bourgeois majorities. This 
they call “democracy”. Capital dominates and weighs 
down everything and they still resort to military censor¬ 
ship. And they call that “democracy”. Among the millions 
of copies of their newspapers and magazines you would 
be hard put to find any but an insignificant few that con¬ 
tain even a hint of anything favourable about the Bolshe¬ 
viks. That is why they say: “We are protected against the 
Bolsheviks, there is order in our countries”, and they call 
it “democracy”. How could it happen that a small section 
of British soldiers and French sailors were able to compel 
the withdrawal of the Entente troops from Russia? There 
is something wrong here. It means that even in Britain, 
France and America the mass of the people are for us; it 
means that all these external features, as socialists who 
refuse to betray socialism have always asserted, are a de¬ 
ception; it means that the bourgeois parliamentary system, 
bourgeois democracy, bourgeois freedom of the press are 
merely freedom for the capitalists, freedom to bribe public 
opinion, to exert pressure on it by all the power of money. 
That is what socialists always said until the imperialist 
war scattered them to their national camps and turned 
each national group of socialists into lackeys of their own 
bourgeoisie. That was said by socialists before the war, 
that was always said by the internationalists and Bolshe¬ 
viks during the war—and it all proved to be absolutely 
correct. All the external features, all the window-dress¬ 
ings, are a fraud; and this is becoming increasingly ob¬ 
vious to the people. They all shout about democracy, but 
in no parliament in the world did they dare to say that 
they were declaring war on Soviet Russia. That is why we 
read in the numerous French, British and American 
publications now available the proposal to “place the heads 
of state in the dock for having violated the Constitution, 



for waging war on Russia without declaring war”. When 
and where was it sanctioned, what article of the Consti¬ 
tution, what parliament sanctioned it? Where did they 
gather their parliamentary representatives together, even 
after taking the precaution to imprison all Bolsheviks and 
near-Bolsheviks, to use the expression of the French press? 
Even under those conditions they did not dare to state in 
their parliaments that they were fighting Russia. That was 
why the splendidly armed, previously undefeated troops 
of Britain and France were unable to defeat us and 
departed from Archangel Region in the North, and from 
the South. 

That was our first and chief victory, because it was not 
only a military victory, it was not really a military victory 
at all—it was actually a victory of that international 
solidarity of the working people for which we began the 
whole revolution, and which we pointed to and said that, 
however numerous the trials we would have to undergo, 
all these sacrifices would be repaid a hundredfold by the 
development of the world revolution, which is inevitable. 
It was apparent from the fact that in the sphere where 
the grossest material factors play the greatest part, namely, 
in the military sphere, we defeated the Entente countries 
by depriving them of the workers and peasants in soldiers’ 

The first victory was followed by the second period of 
Entente intervention in our affairs. Each nation is headed 
by a group of politicians who possess wonderful experience, 
and that is why, after losing this stake, they placed 
another, taking advantage of their dominant position in 
the world. There is not a single country, not a single bit 
of the earth’s surface, which is not in fact totally domi¬ 
nated by British, French and American finance capital. 
That was the basis for the new attempt they made, 
namely, to compel the small countries surrounding Russia, 
many of which had been liberated and had been able to 
declare themselves independent only during the war— 
Poland, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, the Ukraine, etc.—to 
compel these small states to go to war against Russia on 
British, French and American money. 

You may remember, comrades, that our newspapers 



reported a speech by Churchill, the well-known British 
Cabinet Minister, in which he said that 14 states would 
attack Russia and that September would see the fall of 
Petrograd, and December that of Moscow. I heard that 
Churchill then disclaimed this report, hut it was taken 
from the Swedish Folkets Dagblad-Politiken of August 25. 
But even if this source proved unreliable we know full 
well that Churchill and the British imperialists acted 
precisely in this way. We are perfectly well aware that 
everything was done to exert pressure on Finland, Estonia 
and other small countries, in order to persuade them to 
wage war on Soviet Russia. I happened to read a leading 
article in The Times , the most influential bourgeois news¬ 
paper in Britain, a leader written when Yudenich’s troops, 
obviously supplied, equipped and conveyed on board En¬ 
tente transports, were a few versts from Petrograd, and 
Detskoye Selo had been taken. The article was a veritable 
onslaught, in which the maximum pressure was exerted— 
military, diplomatic and historical. British capital flung 
itself on Finland and faced her with an ultimatum: The 
eyes of the whole world are on Finland, said the British 
capitalists, the entire fate of Finland depends on whether 
she understands her role, whether she. will help to crush 
the filthy, dirty, bloody wave of Bolshevism and liberate 
Russia. And in return for this “great and moral” work, for 
this “noble, civilised” work, Finland was promised so 
many million pounds, such-and-such a piece of territory, 
and such-and-such benefits. And what was the result? 
There was a time when Yudenich’s troops were a few 
versts away from Petrograd, when Denikin stood to the 
north of Orel, when the slightest assistance to them would 
have quickly settled the fate of Petrograd to the advantage 
of our enemies, in a minimum of time and at negligible 

The entire pressure of the Entente countries was brought 
to bear on Finland, a country that is up to its neck in 
debt to them. And not only in debt: Finland cannot carry 
on for one month without the aid of these countries. But 
how did the “miracle” of our having won the battle 
against such an enemy happen? And win it we did. Finland 
did not enter the war, Yudenic.h was defeated, so was 



Denikin, and that at a time when joint action by them 
would most surely, most swiftly have settled the whole 
struggle to the advantage of international capitalism. We 
won the battle with international imperialism in this most 
serious and desperate trial of strength. But how did we do 
it? How could such a “miracle” have taken place? It took 
place because the Entente backed the same card as all 
capitalist states, which operate wholly and solely by de¬ 
ception and pressure; that was why everything they did 
aroused such resistance that the result was to our advan¬ 
tage. We were very poorly armed, worn out, and we said 
to the Finnish workers, whom the Finnish bourgeoisie had 
crushed, “You must not fight against us”. The Entente 
countries appeared strong in their armaments, with all 
their outward might, with the food they were in a position 
to supply to these countries, and demanded that they fight 
against us. We won this battle. We won because the En¬ 
tente countries had no troops of their own to fling against 
us, they had to resort to the forces of the small nations, 
but here, not only the workers and peasants, but even the 
considerable section of that very bourgeoisie that had 
crushed the working class did not in the end go against us. 

When the Entente imperialists spoke of democracy and 
independence, these nations had the impudence from the 
Entente- viewpoint, and foolishness from our viewpoint, 
to take these promises seriously and to understand inde¬ 
pendence as really implying independence, and not a 
means of enriching the British and French capitalists. They 
thought that democracy meant living as free men, and 
not that all American multimillionaires would be able to 
plunder their country, or that every tinpot aristocrat of an 
officer should be able to behave like a swine and turn 
into a brazen blackmarketeer prepared, for the sake of a 
few hundred per cent profit, to do the filthiest of jobs. 
That was how we won! The Entente encountered opposi¬ 
tion to its pressure on these small countries, on each of 
these 14 countries. The Finnish bourgeoisie who employed 
White Terror to crush tens of thousands of Finnish work¬ 
ers know that this will not be forgotten, and that the 
German bayonets that made it possible no longer exist— 
these Finnish bourgeois hate the Bolsheviks as intensely 



as an exploiter would hate the workers who kicked him 
out. Nevertheless the Finnish bourgeoisie said to 
themselves. “If we follow the instructions of the Entente, 
that means we shall undoubtedly lose all hope of indepen¬ 
dence.” And this independence was given to them by the 
Bolsheviks in November 1917, when Finland had a bour¬ 
geois government. The attitude of wide sections of the 
Finnish bourgeoisie, therefore, proved to be one of vacil¬ 
lation. We won the battle with the Entente countries be¬ 
cause they counted on the small nations and at the same 
time repelled them. 

This experience confirms, on an enormous, global scale, 
what we have always said. There are two forces on earth 
that can decide the destiny of mankind. One force is in¬ 
ternational capitalism, and should it be victorious it will 
display this force in countless atrocities as may be seen 
from the history of every small nation’s development. The 
other force is the international proletariat that is fighting 
for the socialist revolution through the dictatorship of the 
proletariat, which it calls workers’ democracy. Neither the 
vacillating elements here in Russia, nor the bourgeoisie of 
the small countries believed us; they called us Utopians or 
bandits or even worse, for there is no stupid and mon¬ 
strous accusation that they will not fling at us. But when 
they faced up squarely to the issue of either going with 
the Entente countries and helping them to crush the Bol¬ 
sheviks, or of helping the Bolsheviks by neutrality, we 
proved to have won the battle and to have got that neu¬ 
trality. We had no treaties, whereas Britain, France and 
America had all sorts of promissory notes, all sorts of 
treaties; nevertheless the small nations did as we wanted 
them to; they did so not because the Polish, Finnish, 
Lithuanian or Latvian bourgeoisie derived satisfaction from 
conducting their policy in a way that suited the Bolshe¬ 
viks—that, of course, is nonsense—but because our defi¬ 
nition of the historical forces involved was correct, 
namely, that either brute capital would be victorious, and 
then, even if it were in the most democratic republic, it 
would crush all the small nations of the world—or the 
dictatorship of the proletariat would be victorious, which 
is the sole hope of all working people and of the small, 



downtrodden and weak nations. It turned out that we were 
right not only in theory, but also in practical world poli¬ 
tics. When this battle for the troops of Finland and Esto¬ 
nia took place we won it, although they could have crushed 
us with insignificant forces. We won the battle despite the 
Entente countries having thrown the enormous weight of 
their financial pressure, their military might, and their 
food supplies into the fray in order to compel Finland to 
take action. 

That, comrades, was the second stage of international 
intervention, our second historic victory. First, we won 
the workers and peasants away from Britain, France and 
America. These troops could not fight against us. Second¬ 
ly, we won away from them these small countries, all of 
which are against us, and in which not Soviet, but bour¬ 
geois rule dominates. They displayed friendly neutrality 
towards us and acted contrary to the desires of that mighty 
world force, the Entente, for it was a beast that wanted to 
crush them. 

We witness here on a world scale the same thing that 
happened to the Siberian peasants, who believed in the 
Constituent Assembly and helped the Socialist-Revolution¬ 
aries and Mensheviks to join forces with Kolchak and to 
strike at us. When they learned to their own cost that 
Kolchak represented the dictatorship of the very worst 
exploiters, a plunderous dictatorship of landowners and 
capitalists which was worse than that of the tsar, they 
organised th£ tremendous number of revolts in Siberia 
about which comrades have given us reliable information, 
and which now guarantee the complete return to us of 
Siberia, this time politically conscious. What happened to 
the Siberian peasant, with all his backwardness and polit¬ 
ical ignorance, has now happened on a broader scale, on 
a world scale, to all the small nations. They hated the 
Bolsheviks; some of them had suppressed the Bolsheviks 
with a bloody hand, with furious White Terror, but when 
they saw their “liberators”, the British officers, they un¬ 
derstood the meaning of British and American “democ¬ 
racy”. When representatives of the British and American 
bourgeoisie appeared in Finland and Estonia, the acts of 
suppression they began were more brazen than those of 


the Russian imperialists had been, because the Russian 
imperialists had belonged to an older period and did not 
know how to suppress properly, whereas these people do 
know, and go about it thoroughly. 

That is why this victory at the second stage is a far more 
lasting one than is apparent at the moment. I am not exag¬ 
gerating at all, and consider exaggerations to be extremely 
dangerous. I have not the slightest doubt that further at¬ 
tempts will be made by the Entente to set against us now 
one, now another of the small states that are our neigh¬ 
bours. Such attempts will occur because the small states 
are wholly dependent on the Entente, because all this talk 
about freedom, independence and democracy is sheer 
hypocrisy, and the Entente may compel them once again 
to raise their hand against us. But if this attempt was 
foiled at such a convenient moment when it was so easy 
to wage a struggle against us, we may, I think, say defi¬ 
nitely that in this respect the main difficulty is undoubt¬ 
edly behind us. We are entitled to say this, and to say it 
without the slightest exaggeration, fully conscious that the 
Entente countries possess a tremendous advantage in 
strength. We have won a lasting victory. Attempts will be 
made against us, but we shall defeat them with greater 
ease, because the small states, despite their bourgeois sys¬ 
tem, have become convinced by experience, not theory— 
these gentlemen are theory-proof—that the Entente is a 
more brazen and predatory brute than the one they have 
in their minds when they think of the Bolsheviks, the bo¬ 
gey used to scare children and cultured philistines all over 

But our victories were not limited to this. In the first 
place we won over to our side the workers and peasants of 
the Entente countries; secondly, we gained the neutrality 
of the small nations under the Entente’s domination and, 
thirdly, we began to win over, within the Entente coun¬ 
tries, the petty bourgeoisie and educated townsfolk who 
had been completely opposed to us. To prove this I will 
quote the newspaper VHumanite of October 26 which I 
have here. This newspaper has always belonged to the 
Second International, was rabidly chauvinistic during the 
war, adhered to the viewpoint of socialists similar to our 



Mensheviks and Right Socialist-Revolutionaries, and still 
plays the role of a conciliator; it now announces that it 
has become convinced of a change in mood among the 
workers. The paper did not see this in Odessa but on the 
streets and at meetings in Paris, when the workers stopped 
everyone who dared say a word against Bolshevik Russia. 
As politicians who have learned a fair amount during the 
course of several revolutions, as persons who understand 
what sort of force the people are, they dare not say a 
word in favour of intervention, and are all speaking against 
it. Moreover, it is not only the socialists who say this 
(they call themselves socialists, but for a long time we have 
been aware what sort of socialists they are); the same 
issue of UHumanite of October 26, which I quoted, con¬ 
tains a statement by a large number of French intellec¬ 
tuals, representative of French public opinion. The signa¬ 
tories to this statement are headed by Anatole France and 
include Ferdinand Buisson; altogether I counted the names 
of 71 bourgeois intellectuals famed throughout France, 
who state that they are against intervention in Rus¬ 
sia’s affairs, because the blockade of Russia, the attempt 
to starve her out, from which children and the aged are 
perishing, cannot be tolerated—it is incompatible with 
culture and civilisation. The well-known French historian 
Aulard, who supports the bourgeois point of view in full, 
writes in his letter, “As a Frenchman I am an enemy of 
the Bolsheviks, as a Frenchman I support democracy, it 
is ridiculous to suspect me of the contrary, but when I 
read that France has invited Germany to participate in the 
blockade of Russia, when I read that France has approached 
Germany with this proposal—then I feel myself blushing 
with shame.” It may be that this is just an expression 
of an intellectual’s feelings but we are justified in saying 
that this is our third victory, a victory over imperialist 
France within the country itself. Such is the implication 
of this statement, feeble and pathetic as it is, the state¬ 
ment of intellectuals whose bark, as we know from hun¬ 
dreds of examples, is far worse than their bite, but who 
serve as a good barometer, an indicator of the trend devel¬ 
oping amongst the petty bourgeoisie, of the way in which 
public opinion is reacting, permeated as it is with bour- 



geois sentiment. If we have achieved such results within 
France herself, where all the bourgeois papers write about 
us only in the most lying terms, then we say to ourselves: 
it looks as if a second Dreyfus case is beginning in 
France, only on a much larger scale. At that time the bour¬ 
geois intellectuals fought against clerical and military 
reactionaries, while the working class could not consider 
it their business, as the objective conditions were absent, 
the deep revolutionary feeling of today did not then exist. 
And now? If, after the recent electoral victory of the most 
rabid reactionaries and in the face of a regime hostile to 
the Bolsheviks, the French bourgeois intellectuals say that 
they are ashamed of the alliance between reactionary 
France and reactionary Germany for the purpose of 
starving out the workers and peasants of Russia, then we 
can say to ourselves that this is the third and greatest of 
our victories. And I should like to see how, with this 
situation within the country, Clemenceau, Lloyd George 
and Wilson will carry out the plan of fresh attacks on 
Russia they dream of. Just try it, gentlemen! { Ap¬ 

Comrades, I repeat that it would be a great mistake to 
jump to hasty conclusions because of all this. There can 
be no doubt that the imperialists will resume their attempts, 
but we are absolutely confident that these attempts, no 
matter by what powerful forces they may be undertaken, 
will end in failure. We can say that the Civil War which 
we conducted with such tremendous sacrifices has ended 
in victory. It has been victorious, not only on a Russian 
scale, but on a world-historical scale. Every argument I 
have presented to you has been based on the results of 
the military campaign. That is why, I repeat, new 7 attempts 
are doomed to failure because the imperialists have be¬ 
come much weaker and we have become much stronger 
after our victory over Kolchak, over Yudenich, and when 
there are signs that the victory over Denikin, now in its 
early stages, is imminent. Did not Kolchak have the aid 
of the all-powerful Entente? Did not the peasants of the 
Urals and Siberia, who returned the smallest number of 
Bolsheviks to the Constituent Assembly, solidly support 
the Constituent Assembly front, which at that time was 



the front of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries? 
Were not they the best human material against the Com¬ 
munists? Is it not a fact that Siberia was a country with 
no landed estates and where we were not immediately able 
to assist the mass of peasants in the same way as we were 
able to help all other Russian peasants? What did Kolchak 
lack to defeat us? He lacked what all imperialists lack. 
He remained an exploiter and had to act in the backwash 
of a world war, in circumstances in which he could only 
babble about democracy and freedom, but which made 
possible one of two dictatorships—either the dictatorship 
of the exploiters which frenziedly defends their privileges 
and insists on payment of interest on the bills, whereby 
they wish to squeeze millions out of all peoples, or the 
dictatorship of the workers which fights the power of the 
capitalists and wishes to establish firmly the power of the 
working people. It was only because of this that Kolchak 
came to grief. It was in this *way—not by voting, which 
is, of course, in certain circumstances not a bad way—that 
the Siberian and Ural peasants actually determined their 
destiny. In the summer of 1918 they were dissatisfied with 
the Bolsheviks. They saw that the Bolsheviks forced them 
to sell their surplus grain at a non-speculative price and 
so they turned to Kolchak. Now the peasant has seen, 
compared and arrived at a different conclusion. Despite 
all he was taught in the past, he has understood, because 
he has learned from his own experience what many Social¬ 
ist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks do not want to under¬ 
stand from theory ( applause )—that there must be one of 
two dictatorships, that he must choose either the dictator¬ 
ship of the workers—and this means to assist all working 
people to throw off the yoke of the exploiters—or the 
dictatorship of the exploiters. We have won the peasants 
to our side, we have proved in practice through the most 
bitter experience, through unprecedented difficulties that 
we, as representatives of the working class, can give the 
peasants better and more successful leadership than any 
other party. Other parties like to accuse us of carrying on 
a struggle against the peasants, of being unable to arrive 
at a proper agreement with them, and they all offer their 
kind and noble services to reconcile us with the peasants. 


We are most grateful to you, gentlemen, but we do not 
think that you will manage it! We, at any rate, showed 
long ago that we were able to do this. We did not paint 
the peasant rosy pictures that told him he would be able 
to make the transition from capitalist society without iron 
discipline and the firm rule of the working class; or that 
merely gathering votes would decide the world-historical 
problem of the struggle against capital. We said openly 
that dictatorship is a harsh, severe and even bloody word, 
but we said that the dictatorship of the workers will en¬ 
sure the end of the yoke of the exploiters, and we proved 
to be correct. The peasant, having experienced both 
dictatorships, chose the dictatorship of the working class, 
and will go forward with it to complete victory. (Applause.) 

Comrades, from what I have said about our interna¬ 
tional successes it follows—and, I think, it is not neces¬ 
sary to dwell at length on this—that we must repeat our 
peace proposal in a manner that is calm and business-like 
to the maximum degree. We must do this^ because it is a 
proposal we have made many times, and each time we 
gained something in the eyes of every educated man, even 
if he was our enemy, that made him blush with shame. 
That was the case when Bullitt came here, was received 
by Comrade Chicherin, talked with him and with me, and 
when we concluded a preliminary agreement on peace in 
the course of a few hours. And he assured us (those gen¬ 
tlemen like to boast) that America is everything, and who 
would worry about France in face of America’s strength? 
But when we signed the agreement the French and British 
ministers did this. ( Lenin makes an expressive gesture 
with his foot. Laughter.) Bullitt was left with a useless 
piece of paper and he was told, “Who would have thought 
you were naive and foolish enough to believe in the 
democracy of Britain and France?” (Applause.) The 
result is that in the same issue I read the full text of the 
agreement with Bullitt in French and it was published 
in all the British and American newspapers. The result 
is that they are showing themselves to the whole world 
to be either rogues or infants—let them take their choice! 
(Applause.) All the sympathies even of the petty bour¬ 
geoisie, even of those bourgeois who have any sort of 



an education and who recall how they once fought their 
own tsars and kings, are on our side, because we signed 
the hardest possible peace terms in a business-like manner 
and said, “The price of the blood of our workers and 
soldiers is too high for us; we shall pay you businessmen a 
heavy tribute as the price of peace; we consent to a heavy 
tribute to preserve the lives of our workers and peasants.” 
That is why I think there is no reason for us to dwell long 
on this, and in conclusion I shall read a draft resolution 
that will express, in the name of the Congress of Soviets, 
our unwavering desire to pursue a policy of peace. ( Ap¬ 
plause .) 

Published in Prauda, 
Nos. 275, 276, 277 
December 7. 9, 10, 1919 

Collected Worfcs, Vol. 30, 
pp. 207-22 

FEBRUARY 2, 1920 

Comrades, my report on the activities of the Council 
of People’s Commissars and the All-Russia Central Execu¬ 
tive Committee, whose functions in periods between meet¬ 
ings have been carried out by the Presidium of the All- 
Russia Central Executive Committee, falls naturally into 
two main subdivisions—the first on foreign policy, the 
Soviet Republic’s international position, and the second on 
internal development and our main economic tasks. Allow 
me to present to you in that order the main facts of our 
work during the period under review, i.e., during the past 
two months. 

As far as the Soviet Republic’s international position is 
concerned, it has been determined in the main by the 
successes of the Red Army. As you know, the last rem¬ 
nants of Kolchak’s army in the Far East have been almost 
wiped out, while the rivalry and enmity between Japan 
and America, nominally allies, are becoming more and 
more obvious and prevent them from fully developing 
their onslaught against the Soviet Republic. After the 
annihilation of Yudenich’s troops and after the capture, 



in the South, of Novocherkassk and Rostov-on-Don in 
early January; their main forces suffered so decisive a 
blow that the Soviet Republic’s military position radically 
changed, and although the war was not over, every coun¬ 
try saw clearly that their former hopes of crushing the 
military forces of the Soviet Republic had collapsed. 

Acknowledgement of this radical change in the Soviet 
Republic’s international position was shown by the wire¬ 
less message to us (not delivered officially) of the decision 
of the Allied Council adopted on January 16 to lift the 
blockade against the Soviet Republic. The main section of 
the decision taken by the Council says... (reads) , 71 

There is no need for me to criticise the diplomacy 
contained in this formulation; it is so striking that it is 
not worth wasting time saying that the attitude of the 
Allies to Russia remains unchanged. If that is how the Allies 
understand their policy—that the lifting of the blockade 
does not change it—then it shows how unsound their 
policy is. The importance of this decision for us, however, 
is in its economic, not its political, aspect. Lifting the 
blockade is a fact of major international significance 
showing that a new stage in the socialist revolution has 
begun. For the blockade was in fact the principal, really 
strong weapon with which the imperialists of the world 
wanted to strangle Soviet Russia. 

At the last Congress of Soviets I had occasion to state 
and expand the idea that the struggle against Soviet Rus¬ 
sia had resulted, not only in the workers and peasants of 
France, Britain and other advanced countries forcing the 
imperialists to renounce the struggle, but in the mass of 
the petty bourgeoisie within these countries becoming 
opponents of the blockade. And of course, this opposition 
by the middle sections of the population in countries like 
Britain and France was bound to influence international 
imperialist policy. Knowing their brand of diplomacy, we 
cannot expect them to act in a straightforward manner, 
without any reservations, without wanting to restore the 
past, or by some cunning trick or other return to their 
previous policy, which they cannot pursue openly at the 
moment. It must be said, however, that on the whole we 
have gained tremendous victories, that we have even been 



able to deprive the Allies of a weapon which only they 
possessed—the navy, despite the fact that waverers tried 
to scare us by saying the navy was invincible. Neverthe¬ 
less, the development of political relations showed that 
even this invincible navy was in no fit state to fight us. 
We, who were unable to put up any naval resistance, 
forced the imperialist powers to abandon this weapon. 

Of course, this change in policy on the international 
scene does not have an immediate effect, but the fact 
remains that we have now entered the sphere of world¬ 
wide international relations, and this enables us to get 
support from the more advanced countries. It is true that 
economically and finacially these countries are in a sorry 
plight, they are all going downhill, and we cannot expect 
much from them; but with the opportunity to develop 
our own industry, we can count on receiving machinery 
for production, machinery for the restoration of our 
industry. And above all, that which had cut us off com¬ 
pletely, by means of the blockade, from the advanced 
countries, has been broken down. 

After the Allied Council had been forced to abandon 
this weapon our victories in the field of international 
politics continued, the greatest of them being that we 
succeeded in concluding peace with Estonia. 72 We received 
a communication from JofTe and Gukovsky today saying: 
“Today, February 2, at 2 a.m. Moscow time, peace was 
concluded between Russia and Estonia. The Estonian 
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Birk, arrived from Revel to 
sign the document.” 

Comrades, the text of this peace document which was 
discussed at great length and is of tremendous importance 
has been sent by messenger who should arrive tomorrow 
morning, but we have now received the exact text by 
telegraph, and it will be distributed tomorrow. It will be 
discussed and ratified. This document is of the highest 
importance to us. The peace treaty between Russia and 
Estonia is of epoch-making significance. We have succeeded 
in concluding a peace treaty with a government which is 
also becoming democratic and whose relations with us will 
now be stable, but which up to now has been supported 



by the whole imperialist world. Therefore we must regard 
this as an act of tremendous historical importance. 

We know that people who stand between imperialism 
and democracy usually go over to one side or the other. 
So you see, we have undoubtedly gained a victory, because 
peace has been concluded, and this government must now 
proceed against our enemy. The theoretical significance of 
this fact is that in the imperialist epoch the whole world 
is split into a vast number of big and small states, the 
small states being absolutely helpless, an insignificant 
group compared to the rich powers which completely 
dominate a number of small, weak states. Imperialism 
is the epoch in which the division of the whole world 
takes place, when the whole of the world’s population is 
divided into a minority of exploiting, oppressor countries, 
and a majority of countries with small, weak populations 
that exist in a state of colonial dependence on the minority. 

When we won peace with Estonia we proved that we 
were able to go forward as a proletarian and communist 
state. How have we done this? We have shown all the 
belligerent Entente powers who are opposed to peace that 
the sympathy we are able to evoke among our opponents 
and bourgeois governments, the sympathy of a small coun¬ 
try, is more powerful than all that military oppression, all 
that financial aid and all those economic ties which link 
that small country to the powerful world states. The 
Entente has seen that it is not only when we use force 
that we are able to win; we are in a position to refute the 
lie and slander spread against us by the bourgeois govern¬ 
ments of the world when they say the Bolsheviks retain 
power by force alone. What was it that enabled us to pre¬ 
vail over the combined forces of world imperialism in 
regard to Estonia, a country which had always suffered 
violence at the hands of the Russia of the tsars and 
landowners? It was our proving our ability to renounce, 
in all sincerity, the use of force at the appropriate moment, 
in order to change to a peace policy, and so win the sym¬ 
pathy of the bourgeois government of a small country, 
regardless of all the support given it by international 
capital. This is a fact of historical significance. Estonia 
is a small country, a small republic, but she is oppressed 



economically and militarily in a thousand and one ways 
by world imperialist capital, so much so that her entire 
population comes.under this oppression. And this peace 
now proves that we can, in spite of our exhaustion, weak¬ 
ness and disarray, gain the upper hand over the white- 
guard army with its imperialist backing. The powerful 
Entente knows how to reply to force with even more 
triumphant force, but this peace proves that we do not 
have to resort to force to win the sympathy and support of 
the bourgeoisie. 

A most difficult international problem has arisen here. 
The rate of capitalist development in different countries 
varies; this development takes place under different condi¬ 
tions, in various ways and by various means. A socialist 
republic in one country exists alongside all the capitalist 
countries of the world and causes their bourgeoisie to 
waver. From this they concluded that our position was a 
hopeless one; we had defeated the whiteguards by force, 
but what, they asked, were we going to do about the rest 
of the world? We shall defeat that too. The peace with 
Estonia proves that this is no empty phrase. The entire 
pressure of international capital was overcome in that area 
where our rejection of the use of force was recognised to 
be sincere. “Don’t make peace with the Bolsheviks, other¬ 
wise we shall conquer you by starvation; we shall give 
you neither financial nor economic aid,” said world capital. 
And Estonia proved to be one of the small, formally inde¬ 
pendent countries which said to herself, “We rely more 
on the fact that the Bolsheviks are able to live in peace 
with other, weaker nations, even with a bourgeois govern¬ 
ment, than we do on all the powerful democratic countries 
of the Entente.” 

Democracy is most clearly manifested in the funda¬ 
mental question of war and peace. All the powers are 
preparing a fresh imperialist war, and this is seen daily 
by the workers of the world. Any day now America and 
Japan will hurl themselves at each other; Britain grabbed 
so many colonies after her victory over Germany that the 
other imperialist powers will never resign themselves to 
this. A new fanatical war is being prepared, and the peo¬ 
ple are aware of this. And just at this moment Russia, with 



her huge forces, who is accused of intending to fling those 
forces against a small state as soon as she has finished 
with Yudenich, Kolchak and Denikin—Russia has con¬ 
cluded a democratic peace with Estonia. Furthermore, the 
terms of the peace treaty provide for a number of terri¬ 
torial concessions on our part which do not completely 
correspond to the strict observance of the principle of 
self-determination of nations, and prove in practice that 
the question of frontiers is of secondary importance to us: 
the question of peaceful relations, however, the question 
of our ability to await the development of the conditions 
of life of each nation, is not only an important question 
of principle, it is also a matter in which we have succeeded 
in winning the confidence of nations hostile to us. It is no 
accident that we have achieved this in relation to Estonia; 
it is evidence that a weak proletarian republic, existing in 
isolation and apparently helpless, has begun to win to its 
side countries dependent on the imperialist states—and 
they constitute the vast majority. That is why our peace 
with Estonia is of such great historic significance. No 
matter how the Entente strives to start a war—even if it 
succeeds in turning peace once again into war—the fact 
will remain, firmly established in history, that despite all 
the pressure of international capital we were able to inspire 
greater confidence in a small country ruled by the bour¬ 
geoisie than the so-called democratic, but in reality pred¬ 
atory, imperialist bourgeoisie. 

We by chance came to possess some very interesting 
documents showing how our policy compared with that 
of the allegedly democratic, but in actual fact predatory, 
powers of the whole world, which please permit me to read 
to you. These documents were furnished by a whiteguard 
officer or official named Oleinikov who was commissioned 
by one whiteguard government to hand over some highly 
important documents to another. But he handed them over 
to us instead. 73 {Applause.) It proved possible to send 
these documents to Russia, and I shall read them to you, 
although it will take some time to do so. Nevertheless, they 
are very interesting for they very clearly reveal the hidden 
springs of policy. The first document is a telegram to 
Minister Gulkevich from Sazonov: 



Paris, October 14, 1919, No. 668. 

S. D. Sazonov conveys his respects to Konstantin Nikolayevich, 
and has the honour to enclose for his information copies of a tele¬ 
gram from B. A. Bakhmetev, No. 1050, and a telegram from I. I. Sukin 
No. 23, on the situation in the Baltic Provinces. 

Then comes a more interesting document—a telegram 
from Washington dated October 11: 

Received October 12, 1919. Incoming No. 3346. 

Bakhmetev to the Minister. 

Washington, October 11, 1919, No. 1050. 

Ref. my telegram No. 1045. 

(In code) The State Department acquainted me verbally with the 
instructions given to Gade. He is appointed the Commissar of the 
American Government in the Baltic Provinces of Russia He is not 
accredited to any Russian Government. His mission is to observe 
and inform. His behaviour must not lead the local population to expect 
that the American Government could agree to support separatist 
trends going beyond autonomy. On the contrary, the American Gov¬ 
ernment trusts that the population of the Baltic Provinces will help 
their Russian brothers in their work of general state importance. 
The instructions are based on the interpretation of the agreement of 
the Allied Governments with the Supreme Ruler 74 as outlined in my 
memorandum of June 17 to the government. Gade has been given 
extracts from the recent speeches of the President in which he ful¬ 
minates against Bolshevism. 

So, the American Government intimates that its repre¬ 
sentative can issue any kind of instructions but may not 
support independence, i.e., may not guarantee the inde¬ 
pendence of these states. This is what directly or indi¬ 
rectly came to light, and Estonia could not be kept in 
ignorance of the fact that she was being deceived by the 
Great Powers. Of course, everyone could have guessed 
this, but now we have the documents and they will be 

Received October 12, 1919. Incoming No. 3347 

Sukin to the Minister. 

Omsk, October 9, 1919, No. 28. 

(In code) Knox has given the Supreme Ruler the message of the 
British War Office in which the latter warns of the inclination of the 
Baltic states to conclude a peace with the Bolsheviks who guarantee 
them immediate recognition of their independence. At the same time 
the British War Office raises the question of the advisability of 
paralysing this pledge by satisfying, in its turn, the wishes of the states 
indicated. We replied to Knox by referring to the principles outlined 
in the Note of the Supreme Ruler to the Powers on June 4, and, in 
addition, we pointed out that the conclusion of a peace between the 



Baltic states and the Bolsheviks would be undoubtedly fraught with 
danger since this would permit the release of part of the Soviet 
forces and would clear the way to the infiltration of Bolshevism in 
the West. The mere fact that they are ready to talk peace is in our 
opinion evidence of the utter demoralisation of the parties of these 
self-governing entities which cannot protect themselves from the 
penetration of aggressive Bolshevism. 

Expressing the conviction that the Powers could not approve of 
the further spread of Bolshevism, wc pointed to the necessity of 
withdrawing all aid from the Baltic states since this would be a real 
means of exerting influence by the Powers, and is more advisable 
than competition in promises with the Bolsheviks, who now have 
nothing to lose. 

In transmitting the above, I would request you to make similar 
representations in Paris and London; we are making a special 
approach to Bakhmetev. 

Received October 9, 1919. Incoming No. 3286. 

Sablin to the Minister. 

London, October 7, 1919, No. 677. 

(In code) In a letter to Guchkov, the Director of Military Opera¬ 
tions of the War Office, to whom Guchkov made an. offer of our 
shipping in order to facilitate the delivery of supplies to Yudenich 
by the British, states that in the opinion of the War Office Yudenich 
has all that he requires at the moment, and that Britain is experienc¬ 
ing some difficulty in providing further supplies. He adds, however, 
that as we have shipping, we could arrange supplies for Yudenich on 
a commercial basis, providing we obtain credits. At the same time 
General Radcliffe admits that Yudenich’s army must be properly 
equipped since it is “the only force among the Baltic states able to 
engage in active operations against the Bolsheviks”. 

Minister to Bakhmetev in Washington. 

Paris, September 30, 1919, No. 2442. 

(In code) From a strictly confidential Swedish source I learn that 
the American envoy in Stockholm, Morris, is talking about growing 
sympathy in America towards the Bolsheviks and of intentions to 
cease aid to Kolchak in order to enter into contacts with Moscow in 
the interests of American trade. Such statements on the part of an 
official representative make a strange impression. 

Received October 5, 1919. Incoming No. 3244. 

Bakhmetev to the Minister. 

Washington, October 4, 1919, No. 1021. 

Ref. your telegram No. 2442. 

(In code) The State Department informed me in confidence that 
it is true that the envoy in Stockholm, Morris, and particularly Hap- 
good in Copenhagen, are well known for their Left sympathies, but 
that they have no influence or authority here, and that the govern¬ 
ment is obliged to admonish them from time to time, categorically 
pointing out that American policy is one of undeviating support of 
our government in the struggle against the Bolsheviks. 



Here are all the documents which we shall publish and 
which clearly show how the battle went on around Estonia, 
how the Entente, Britain and France, together with 
Kolchak and America, all brought pressure to bear on 
Estonia with the one aim of preventing the signing of a 
peace treaty with the Bolsheviks, and how the Bolsheviks, 
pledging themselves to territorial concessions and guar¬ 
anteeing independence, won this trial of strength. I state 
that this victory is of gigantic historic significance, because 
it has been gained without the use of force. This victory 
over world imperialism is a victory that is bringing the 
Bolsheviks the sympathy of the whole world. This victory 
by no means denotes that universal peace will be concluded 
immediately; but it does show that we represent the peace 
interests of the majority of the world’s population against 
the imperialist war-mongers. Such an assessment of the 
situation has induced bourgeois Estonia, an opponent of 
communism, to conclude peace with us. Since we, a pro¬ 
letarian state, a Soviet republic, are concluding a peace 
treaty, since we are acting in a spirit of peace towards 
bourgeois governments oppressed by the great magnates 
of imperialism, we must be able to decide from this how 
our international policy is to be shaped. 

The main task we set ourselves is to defeat the exploiters 
and to win to our side the waverers—this is a task of 
historic significance. Among the waverers are a whole 
number of bourgeois states which, as bourgeois states, 
detest us, but which, on the other hand, as oppressed states, 
prefer peace with us. This explains the peace with Estonia. 
This peace is, of course, only a first step, and its influence 
will only be felt in the future, but that it will be felt is a 
fact. Up to now we have negotiated with Latvia only 
through the Red Cross, 75 and the same is true of our 
negotiations with the Polish Government. I repeat—the 
peace with Estonia is bound to influence events because 
the basis is identical; the same attempts are being made 
to goad Latvia and Poland into making war on Russia as 
were made in the case of Estonia. Perhaps these attempts 
will prove successful, and since war with Poland is pos¬ 
sible, we must be vigilant, but we are certain—this has 
been demonstrated by our main achievements—that we 



can conclude peace and make concessions which permit 
the development of any form of democracy. This is now 
especially important because the Polish question is partic¬ 
ularly acute. We have received a number of communica¬ 
tions indicating that apart from bourgeois, conservative, 
landowning Poland, apart from the pressure being exerted 
by all capitalist parties in Poland, all the Entente powers 
are doing their utmost to incite Poland to make war 
against us. 

As you know, the Council of People’s Commissars has 
issued an appeal to the working people of Poland. 76 We 
are going to ask you to endorse this appeal as a means of 
fighting that campaign of calumny in which Polish 
landowning circles are engaged. We shall submit an addi¬ 
tional text of an appeal to the working people of Poland. 
This appeal will be a blow to the imperialist powers, who 
are doing their utmost to incite Poland against us; for us 
the interests of the majority of the people take first place. 

I shall now acquaint you with a telegram intercepted 
by us yesterday, which illustrates the attempts of American 
capital to present us in a certain light and thereby drag us 
into a war with Poland. The telegram says (reads). I have 
said and heard nothing of the sort, but they are able to lie 
because it is not for nothing that they spend their money 
on spreading lying rumours that have a definite aim. Their 
bourgeois government guarantees them this. (Continues 
reading the telegram.) This telegram was sent from Europe 
to America and was paid for out of capitalist funds; it 
serves as a shameless means of provoking a war with 
Poland. American capital is doing its utmost to bring pres¬ 
sure to bear on Poland and does this unashamedly, making 
it appear that the Bolsheviks want to finish with Kolchak 
and Denikin in order to throw all their “iron troops” 
against Poland. 

It is important that we should here and now endorse the 
decision of the Council of People’s Commissars, and then 
we must do what we did previously in relation to other 
states, and also what we did in regard to the troops of 
Kolchak and Denikin. We must immediately appeal to the 
Polish people and explain the real state of affairs. We 
know full well that this method of ours has a most positive 



effect in tending to disrupt the ranks of our enemy. And 
in the end, this method will lead on to the path we need, 
the path on to which it has led the working population of 
all countries. This policy must make a definite beginning— 
no matter how difficult this may prove—and once a 
beginning is made, we shall carry it through to completion. 

I must mention that we have been pursuing the same 
policy in respect of all other countries. We invited Georgia 
and Azerbaijan to conclude an agreement against Denikin. 
They refused, pleading non-interference in the affairs of 
other countries. We shall see how the workers and peasants 
of Georgia and Azerbaijan regard this. 

This policy has been applied even more cautiously in 
respect of the Western nations than in dealing with the 
nations of Russia. It involved such countries as Latvia, 
Estonia, Poland and, on the other hand, a number of 
Eastern countries whose developmental level is the same 
as that of most of those colonial countries which constitute 
the majority of the world’s population. They are kept 
down by Britain, who continues to hold colonial slaves 
under her sway. Our policy in relation to West-European 
countries has been very cautious—it will take some time 
for them to get over their own Kerensky period—but our 
policy in the East must be even more cautious and patient, 
for here we are dealing with countries that are much more 
backward, are under the oppressive influence of religious 
fanaticism, are imbued with greater distrust of the Russian 
people, and for decades and centuries were oppressed by 
the tsarist government’s capitalist and imperialist policy, 
by the policy conducted towards these nations by Russia 
as the dominant nation. 

We have granted autonomy to the Bashkir Republic. 
We must found an autonomous Tatar Republic. 77 We shall 
continue the same policy in relation to all the Eastern 
peoples, and say to ourselves that we, who are faced by 
a huge front of imperialist powers, we, who are fighting 
imperialism, represent an alliance that requires close 
military unity, and any attempt to violate this unity we 
regard as absolutely impermissible, as a betrayal of the 
struggle against international imperialism. However, in 
implementing this policy we must be even more cautious. 



For if the European countries have to go through a Keren¬ 
sky period, in the countries that are at a lower develop¬ 
mental level there are even greater elements of distrust, 
and it will require more time to influence them. We sup¬ 
port the independence and sovereignty of these countries. 
We appeal to their working people. We say: unity of the 
military forces is imperative; any deviation from this unity 
is impermissible. 

We are confident that, by systematically pursuing our 
policy of close alliance, we shall achieve greater success 
than before in our relations with the peoples of the East. 
And our success is already great. The Soviet Republic 
enjoys tremendous popularity among all the Eastern 
peoples for the same reason that made it possible for us 
to conclude a peace treaty with a small Western state, 
because they see in us an unswerving fighter against 
imperialism, because ours is the only republic which is 
waging a war against imperialism and is capable of utilis¬ 
ing every situation without the use of force, and which is 
also able to gain a victory by renouncing the use of force. 

Needless to say, a far more perfected variety of this 
policy is being implemented in relation to the Ukrainian 
Republic. Here the problem has been simplified by the 
prior conclusion of an agreement between the All-Russia 
Central Executive Committee and the Central Executive 
Committee of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. 78 On the 
basis of this agreement, which implies a close federation 
of both republics in the struggle against the imperialist 
countries, we are building an ever closer alliance. As a 
result of their bitter experience of Denikin’s rule, the mass 
of Ukrainian peasants and workers are becoming con¬ 
vinced that only the closest alliance between the Ukraine 
and the Russian Republic will be really invincible in the 
face of international imperialism, and that at the time of 
struggle against imperialism there is nothing to be gained 
by the separation of the Ukrainian state, since imperialism 
will take advantage of every division to crush Soviet power. 
Such a division is criminal. Our policy is taking deep root 
in the Ukraine, and we are confident that the forthcoming 
All-Ukraine Congress of Soviets of Workers and Peasants 
will officially endorse this policy. These are the few 


remarks lo which I must limit myself on the question of 
the international situation. I shall ask this session to 
endorse all the practical proposals I have to make (I have 
enumerated them) on behalf of the Council of People’s 
Commissars and the All-Russia Central Executive Com¬ 

In passing on to the work of internal development I 
must first deal with certain measures taken by our govern¬ 
ment, and then proceed to the most important matter of 
all—the change-over to a new course, the transition from 
military tasks to those of state organisation. 

In regard to our internal policy for the two months 
under review, among the main measures which more or 
less stand out from a number of current tasks, the follow¬ 
ing decision requiring the endorsement of the All-Russia 
Central Executive Committee is of particular importance. 
This is the decision to abolish the death penalty. As you 
know, immediately after the main victory over Denikin, 
after the capture of Rostov, Comrade Dzerzhinsky, the 
People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs, who is in charge 
of the Cheka, submitted a proposal to the Council of 
People’s Commissars, and had it endorsed in his o\yn 
department, that the passing of all death sentences by the 
Cheka be abolished. When bourgeois democracy in Europe 
does all in its power to spread the lie that Soviet Russia 
is predominantly terrorist, when this lie is spread about us 
by bourgeois democracy and by the socialists of the Second 
International, when Kautsky writes a special book entitled 
Terrorism and Communism in which he declares that 
communist power is based on terrorism, then you can well 
imagine the kind of lies spread on this subject. In order 
to refute this lie we have decided on the step taken by 
Comrade Dzerzhinsky, endorsed by the Council of Peo¬ 
ple’s Commissars, and which now needs the approval of 
the All-Russia Central Executive Committee. 

We were forced to use terror in response to the terror 
employed by the Entente, when the mighty powers of the 
world flung their hordes against us, stopping at nothing. 
We could not have lasted two days had we not replied 
to these attempts of officers and whiteguards in a merci¬ 
less fashion. This meant the use of terror, but this was 




forced on us by the terrorist methods of the Entente. But 
as soon as we had gained a decisive victory, even before 
the end of the war, immediately after the capture of 
Rostov, we renounced capital punishment, and have there¬ 
fore proved that we intend to carry out our own programme 
as we had promised. We say that the use of violence arises 
from the need to crush the exploiters, the landowners and 
capitalists. When this is accomplished we shall renounce 
all extraordinary measures. We have proved this in prac¬ 
tice. And I think, I hope, and I am confident that the 
All-Russia Central Executive Committee will unanimously 
endorse this measure of the Council of People’s Commis¬ 
sars and will implement it in such a way that it will be 
impossible to apply the death penalty in Russia. Needless 
to say» any attempt by the Entente to resume methods of 
war will force us to reintroduce the former terror; we 
know that we are living in a time of the law of the jungle, 
when kind words are of no avail. This is what we had in 
mind, and as soon as the decisive struggle was over, we 
immediately began to abolish measures which all other 
powers apply without any time limit having been set. 

... In the next few months all our energies must be 
concentrated on food deliveries and the extension of our 
resources of food supplies. There must not be the slightest 
departure from this. At the same time let the scientists 
and technicians produce a long-term plan for the electri¬ 
fication of all Russia. Let the links which we have estab¬ 
lished with the outside world, with capitalist Europe, that 
gateway which we made for ourselves by concluding peace 
with Estonia, serve to provide us immediately With essential 
technical aid. When, in the next few months, we have 
solved the basic problems of transport and food supplies, 
when we have solved the problem of labour conscription, 
on which problems we shall wholly concentrate all our 
energies, not allowing ourselves to be deflected from this 
by anything else for a few months—when we have accom¬ 
plished this we shall prove that we can go on with develop¬ 
mental tasks that will last many years and put the whole 
of Russia on to an advanced technological footing, abolish¬ 
ing the division between town and country, and making 
it possible to conquer completely and decisively the back- 



wardness of the countryside, its scattered economy and 
its ignorance, from which stem all the stagnation, all the 
backwardness, all the oppression that have existed up to 
now. And in this matter, that of the peaceful struggle on 
the bloodless front of the reorganisation of industry, we 
shall, if we employ all our military skill and all our 
energy, and concentrate all our forces on the fulfilment of 
this task, achieve success that will be even more decisive, 
even more glorious, than those we have won in the 
military field. (Applause.) 

Brief reports published Collected Works, Vol. 30, 

on February 3, 1920 pp, 315-28 , 335-36 

in Pravda No. 23, 

and in Izvestia No. 23 

First published in full 

in the Fourth (Russian) 

Edition of the Collected Works 




1. Do we intend to attack Poland and Rumania? 

No. We have declared most emphatically and officially, 
in the name of the Council of People’s Commissars and 
the All-Russia Central Executive Committee, our peaceful 
intentions. It is very much to be regretted that the French 
capitalist government is instigating Poland (and presum¬ 
ably Rumania, too) to attack us. This is even mentioned 
by a number of American radios from Ljmns. 

2. What are our plans in Asia? 

They are the same as in Europe: peaceful coexistence 
with all peoples; with the workers and peasants of all 
nations awakening to a new life—a life without exploiters, 
without landowners, without capitalists, without mer¬ 
chants. The imperialist war of 1914-18, the war of the 
capitalists of the Anglo-French (and Russian) group 
against the German-Austrian capitalist group for the 
partition of the world, has awakened Asia and has 
strengthened there, as everywhere else, the urge towards 



freedom, towards peaceful labour and against possible 
future wars. 

3. What would be the basis of peace with America? 

Let the American capitalists leave us alone. We shall 
not touch them. We are even ready to pay them in gold 
for any machinery, tools, etc., useful to our transport and 
industries. We are ready to pay not only in gold, but in 
raw materials too. 

4. What are the obstacles to such a peace? 

None on our part; imperialism on the part of the Amer¬ 
ican (and of any other) capitalists. 

5. What are our views of the deportation of Russian revolutionar¬ 
ies from America? 

We have accepted them. We are not afraid of revolu¬ 
tionaries here in this country. As a matter of fact, we are 
not afraid of anybody, and if America is afraid of a few 
more hundred or thousand of its citizens, we are ready 
to begin negotiations with a view Of receiving any citizens 
whom America thinks dangerous (with the exception of 
criminals, of course). 

6. What possibilities are there of an economic alliance between 
Russia and Germany? 

Unfortunately, they are not great. The Scheidemanns 
are bad allies. We stand for an alliance with all countries 
without exception. 

7. What are our views upon the allied demand for the extradition 
of war criminals? 

If we are to speak seriously on this matter of war guilt, 
the guilty ones are the capitalists of all countries. Hand 
over to us all your landed proprietors owning more than 
a hundred hectares and capitalists having a capital of 
more than 100,000 francs and we shall educate them to 



useful labour and make them break with the shameful, 
base and bloody role of exploiters and instigators of wars 
for the partition of colonies. Wars will then soon become 
absolutely impossible. 

8. What would be the influence of peace with Russia upon the 
economic conditions in Europe? 

Exchange of machinery for grain, flax and other raw 
materials—I ask, can this be disadvantageous for Europe? 
Clearly, it cannot be anything but beneficial. 

9. What is our opinion regarding the future development of the 
Soviets as a world force? 

The future belongs to the Soviet system all the world 
over. The facts have proved it. One has only to count by 
quarterly periods, say, the growth in the number of 
pamphlets, books, leaflets and newspapers standing for or 
sympathising with the Soviets published in any country. 
It cannot be otherwise. Once the workers in the cities, the 
workers, landless peasants and the handicraftsmen in the 
villages as well as the small peasants (i.e., those who do 
not exploit hired labour)—once this enormous majority 
of working people have understood that the Soviet 
system gives all power into their hands, releasing them 
from the yoke of landlords and capitalists, how 
could one prevent the victory of the Soviet system all 
over the world? I, for one, do not know of any means of 
preventing it. 

10. Has Russia still to fear counter-revolution from without? 

Unfortunately, it has, for the capitalists are stupid, 
greedy people. They have made a number of such stupid, 
greedy attempts at intervention and one has to fear repeti¬ 
tions until the workers and peasants of all countries 
thoroughly re-educate their own capitalists. 

11. Is Russia ready to enter into business relations with America? 

Of course she is ready to do so, and with all other coun¬ 
tries. Peace with Estonia, to whom we have conceded a 


great deal, has proved our readiness, for the sake of busi¬ 
ness relations, to give even industrial concessions on cer¬ 
tain conditions. 

February 18, 1920 

V. Ulyanov ( N. Lenin) 

Published on February 21, 1920 Collected Works, Vol. 30, 

in the New York Evening Journal pp. 365-67 

No. 12671 

First published in Russian 
on April 22, 1950 
in Pravda No. 112 



1. What is our attitude towards the raising of the blockade? 

We consider it a big step forward. The possibility is 
being opened for us to pass from a war that was forced on 
us by the capitalist governments of the Entente to peace¬ 
ful reconstruction. This is of the greatest importance to 
us. Straining all our efforts towards the restoration of the 
economic life of the country, ruined first by the war 
between capitalists over the Dardanelles and the colonies, 
then by the war of the capitalists of the Entente and Russia 
against the workers of Russia, we are now, among other 
measures, working out, with the aid of a number of scien¬ 
tists and experts, a plan of electrification of the whole 
country. 81 This plan is to be realised over a period of many 
years. The electrification will rejuvenate Russia. Electri¬ 
fication based on the Soviet system will mean the complete 
success of the foundations of communism in our country— 
foundations of a cultured life, without exploiters, without 
capitalists, without landlords, without merchants. 

The raising of the blockade will help to accomplish 
Russia’s electrification. 

2. What influence will the Allies’ decision to cease offensive 
action have on the offensive actions of the Soviet power? 

The Allies, together with their allies and their lackeys— 
Kolchak, Denikin, and the capitalists of the surrounding 
countries—have attacked us. We did not attack anyone. 


We concluded peace with Estonia even at the cost of mate¬ 
rial sacrifices. 

We are impatiently waiting to see the Allies’ “decision” 
supported by their deeds, but the story of the Versailles 
Peace and of its consequences, unfortunately, indicates 
that in most cases the Allies’ words disagree with their 
deeds and the decisions remain scraps of paper. 

3. Is the present status quo satisfactory from the standpoint of 
Soviet policy? 

Yes, because every status quo in politics is a transition 
from old forms to new ones. The present status quo is, 
from many points of view, a transition from war to peace. 
Such a change is desirable to us for this reason, and insofar 
do we consider the status quo satisfactory. 

4. What are our aims in connection with the cessation of hostilities 
on the part of the Allies? 

Our aims, as already mentioned, are peaceful economic 
building. A detailed plan of it, on the basis of electrifica¬ 
tion, is being at present worked out by a committee of 
scientists and technicians—or rather, by a number of 
committees—in accordance with the resolution of the 
February (1920) session of the All-Russia Central Execu¬ 
tive Committee. 

Written on February 18, 1920 Collected Works, Vol. 30, 

Published on February 23, 1920 pp. 368-69 

in the Daily Express No. 6198 

First published in Russian 
on April 22, 1950 
in Pravda No. 112 



Allies Playing “Chess Game” 

Of the Allies’ reported decision to lift the blockade Lenin said: 

It is hard to see sincerity behind so vague a proposal, 
coupled as it seems to be with preparations to attack us 
afresh through Poland. At first glance the Allied Council’s 
proposition looks plausible enough—the resumption of 
commercial relations through the medium of the Russian 
co-operatives. But the co-operatives do not any longer 
exist, having been linked up with our Soviet distribution 
organs. Therefore what is meant when the Allies talk of 
dealing with the co-operatives? Certainly it is not clear. 

Therefore I say that closer examination convinces us 
that this Paris decision is simply a move in the Allied chess 
game the motives of which are still obscure. 

Lenin paused a moment, then added with a broad grin: 

Far obscurer, for instance, than Marshal Foch’s 
intended visit to Warsaw. 

I asked if he deemed the probability of a Polish offensive serious 
(it must be recalled that in Russia the talk was of a drive by the 
Poles against the Bolsheviks, not vice versa). 

Beyond, doubt, Lenin replied. Clemenceau and Focli are 
very, very serious gentlemen, and the one originated and 



the other is going to carry out this offensive scheme. It 
is a grave menace, of course, but we have faced graver 
ones. It does not cause us fear so much as disappointment 
that the Allies should still pursue the impossible. For a 
Polish offensive can no more settle the Russian problem 
for them than did Kolchak’s and Denikin’s. Poland has 
many troubles of her own, remember. And it is obvious 
that she can get no help from any of her neighbours, 
including Rumania. 

Yet peace seems nearer than before, I suggested. 

Yes, that’s true. If peace is a corollary of trade with us, 
the Allies cannot avoid it much longer. I have heard that 
Millerand, Clemenceau’s successor, expresses willingness 
to envisage commercial relations with the Russian people. 
Perhaps this heralds a change of front among the French 
capitalists. But Churchill is still strong in England, and 
Lloyd George, who probably wants to do business with us, 
dare not risk an open rupture with the political and finan¬ 
cial interests supporting the Churchill policy. 

United States Oppresses Socialists 

And America? 

It is hard to see clearly what is going on there. Your 
bankers seem to fear us more than ever. At any rate, your 
government is instituting more violently repressive 
measures not only against the socialists but against the 
working class in general than any other government, even 
the reactionary French. Apparently it is persecuting for¬ 
eigners. And yet, what would America be without her for¬ 
eign workers? They are an absolute necessity to your 
economic development. 

Still, some American manufacturers appear to have 
begun to realise that making money in Russia is wiser 
than making war against Russia, which is a good sign. 
We shall need American manufactures—locomotives, 
automobiles, etc.—more than those of any other country. 



And your peace terms? 

It is idle to talk further about them , Lenin returned 
emphatically. All the world knows that we are prepared 
to make peace on terms the fairness of which even the 
most imperialistic capitalists could not dispute. We have 
reiterated and reiterated our desire for peace, our need 
for peace and our readiness to give foreign capital the 
most generous concessions and guarantees. But we do not 
propose to be strangled to death for the sake of peace. 

I know of no reason why a socialist state like ours 
cannot do business indefinitely with capitalist countries. 
We don’t mind taking the capitalist locomotives and farm¬ 
ing machinery, so why should they mind taking our 
socialist wheat, flax and platinum. Socialist grain tastes 
the same as any other grain, does it not ? Of course, they 
will have to have business relations with the dreadful 
Bolsheviks, that is, the Soviet Government. But it should 
not be harder for American steel manufacturers, for 
instance, to deal with the Soviets than it was for them to 
deal with Entente governments ir ueir war-time munition 

Europe Dependent on Russia 

That is why this talk of reopening trade with Russia 
through co-operatives seems to us insincere, or at least, 
obscure—a move in a game of chess rather than a frank, 
straightforward proposition that would be immediately 
grasped and acted upon. Moreover, if the Allied Council 
really means to lift the blockade, why doesn’t it tell us 
of its intentions? We are without official word from Paris. 
What little we know is derived from newspaper dispatches 
picked up by our wireless. 

The statesmen of the Entente and the United States do 
not seem to understand that Russia’s present economic 
distress is simply a part of the world’s economic distress. 
Until the economic problem is faced from a world stand¬ 
point and not merely from the standpoint of certain 
nations or a group of nations, a solution is impossible. 
Without Russia, Europe cannot get on her feet. And with 


Europe prostrate, America’s position becomes critical. 
What good is America’s wealth if she cannot buy with it 
that which she needs? America cannot eat or wear the 
gold she has accumulated, can she? She can’t trade profit¬ 
ably, that is on a basis that will be of real value to her, 
with Europe until Europe is able to give her the things 
she wants in exchange for that which she has to give. And 
Europe cannot give her those things until she is on her 
feet economically. 

World Needs Russian Goods 

In Russia we have wheat, flax, platinum, potash and 
many minerals of which the whole world stands in desper¬ 
ate need. The world must come to us for them in the end , 
Bolshevism or no Bolshevism. There are signs that a 
realisation of this truth is gradually awakening. But mean¬ 
while not only Russia but all Europe is going to pieces, 
and the Allied Council still indulges in tergiversation. 
Russia can be saved from utter ruin and Europe too, but it 
must be done soon and quickly. And the Allied Council is 
slow, so very slow. In fact, it has already been dissolved, 
I believe, in favour of a Council of Ambassadors, leaving 
nothing settled and with only a League of Nations which 
is non-existent, still-born, to take its place. How can the 
League of Nations possibly come to life without the United 
States to give it backbone! 

I inquired as to whether the Soviet Government was satisfied with 
the military situation. 

Very much so, Lenin replied promptly. The only symp¬ 
toms of further military aggression against us are those 
I spoke of in Poland. If Poland embarks on such an adven¬ 
ture there will be more suffering on both sides, more lives 
needlessly sacrificed. But even Foch could not give the 
Poles victory. They could not defeat our Red Army even 
if Churchill himself fought with them. 

Here Lenin threw back his head and laughed grimly. Then he 
went on in a graver vein: 



We can be crushed, of course, by any one of the big 
Allied powers if they can send their own armies against us. 
But that they dare not do. The extraordinary paradox is 
that weak as Russia is compared with the Allies’ boundless 
resources, she has not only been able to shatter every 
armed force, including British, American and French 
troops that they have managed to send against her, but 
to win diplomatic and moral victories as well over the 
cordon sanitaire countries. Finland refused to fight against 
us. We have peace with Estonia and peace with Serbia* 
and Lithuania 83 is at hand. Despite material inducements 
offered to and sinister threats made against these small 
countries by the Entente, they preferred to establish pacific 
relations with us. 

International Situation Hopeful 

This assuredly demonstrates the tremendous moral 
force we hold. The Baltic states, our nearest neighbours, 
appreciate that we alone have no designs against their 
independence and well-being. 

And Russia’s internal situation? 

It is critical but hopeful. With spring the food shortage 
will be overcome to the extent at least of saving the cities 
from famine. There will be sufficient fuel then too. The 
reconstruction period is under way, thanks to the Red 
Army’s stupendous performances. Now parts of that army 
are transformed into armies of labour, an extraordinary 
phenomenon only possible in a country struggling toward 
a high ideal. Certainly it could not be done in capitalist 
countries. We have sacrificed everything to victory over 
our armed antagonists in the past; and now we shall turn 
all our strength to economic rehabilitation. It will take 
years, but we shall win out in the end. 

When do you think communism will be complete in Russia? 

The question was a poser, I thought, but Lenin replied immedi¬ 

* This was an error in the newspaper text. Serbia was not at war 
with Soviet Russia. Apparently Lenin spoke of Latvia.— Ed. 



We mean to electrify our entire industrial system through 
power stations in the Urals and elsewhere. Our engineers 
tell us it will take ten years. When the electrification is 
accomplished it will be the first important stage on the 
road to the communist organisation of public economic 
life. All our industries will receive their motive power from 
a common source, capable of supplying them all ade¬ 
quately. This will eliminate wasteful competition in the 
quest of fuel, and place manufacturing enterprise on a 
sound economic footing, without which we cannot hope 
to achieve a full measure of interchange of essential 
products in accordance with communist principles. 

Incidentally , in three years we expect to have 50,000,000 
incandescent lamps burning in Russia. There are 70,000,000 
in the United States, I believe, but in a land where electric¬ 
ity is in its infancy more than two-thirds of that number 
is a very high figure to achieve. Electrification is to my 
mind the most momentous of the great tasks that con¬ 
front us. 

Scores Socialist Leaders 

At the close of our talk Lenin delivered himself, not for publica¬ 
tion, however, of some cutting criticism of certain socialist leaders 
in Europe and America which revealed his lack of faith in the ability 
or even the desire of these gentry to promote world revolution effec¬ 
tively. He evidently feels that Bolshevism will come to pass in spite 
of, rather than because of the “official” chieftains of socialism. 

The World No. 21368 Verified with The World 

February 21, 1920 text 

First published in Russian in 1957, 

Kommunist No. 15 



MARCH 29-APRIL 5, 1920 



Last spring our military situation was an extremely 
difficult one; as you remember, we were still to experience 
quite a number of defeats, of new, huge and unexpected 
offensives on the part of the counter-revolution and the 
Entente, none of which could have been anticipated by us. 
It was therefore only natural that the greater part of this 
period was devoted to the military problem, the problem 
of the Civil War, which seemed unsolvable to all the faint¬ 
hearted, not to speak of the parties of the Mensheviks and 
Socialist-Revolutionaries and other petty-bourgeois demo¬ 
crats, and to all the intermediate elements; this induced 
them to declare quite sincerely that the problem could not 
be solved, that Russia was backward and enfeebled and 
could not vanquish the capitalist system of the entire 
world, seeing that the revolution in the West had been 
delayed. And we therefore had to maintain our position 
and to declare with absolute firmness and conviction that 
we would win, we had to implement the slogans “Every¬ 
thing for victory!” “Everything for the war!” 

To carry out these slogans it was necessary to deliber¬ 
ately and openly leave some of the most essential needs 
unsatisfied, and time and again to deny assistance to many, 
in the conviction that all forces had to be concentrated 
on the war, and that we had to win the war which the 
Entente had forced upon us. It was only because of the 
Party’s vigilance and its strict discipline, because the 
authority of the Party united all government departments 
and institutions, because the slogans issued by the Central 
Committee were adopted by tens, hundreds, thousands 



and finally millions of people as one man, because incred¬ 
ible sacrifices were made—it was only because of all 
this that the miracle which occurred was made possible. 
It was only because of all this that we were able to win 
in spite of the campaigns of the imperialists of the Entente 
and of the whole world having been repeated twice, thrice 
and even four times. And, of course, we not only stress 
this aspect of the matter; we must also bear in mind that 
it teaches us that without discipline and centralisation we 
would never have accomplished this task. The incredible 
sacrifices that we have made in order to save the country 
from counter-revolution and in order to ensure the victory 
of the Russian revolution over Denikin, Yudenich and 
Kolchak are a guarantee of the world social revolution. 
To achieve this, we had to have Party discipline, the 
strictest centralisation and the absolute certainty that the 
untold sacrifices of tens and hundreds of thousands of 
people would help us to accomplish all these tasks, and 
that it really could be done, could be accomplished. And 
for this purpose it was essential that our Party and the 
class which is exercising the dictatorship, the working 
class, should serve as elements uniting millions upon mil¬ 
lions of working people in Russia and all over the world. 

If we give some thought to what, after all, was the 
underlying reason for this historical miracle, why a weak, 
exhausted and backward country was able to defeat the 
most powerful countries in the world, we shall find that 
it was centralisation, discipline and unparalleled self-sacri¬ 
fice. On what basis? Millions of working people in a coun¬ 
try that was anything but educated could achieve this 
organisation, discipline and centralisation only because 
the workers had passed through the school of capitalism 
and had been united by capitalism, because the proletariat 
in all the advanced countries has united—and united the 
more, the more advanced the country; and on the other 
hand, because property, capitalist property, small property 
under commodity production, disunites. Property disunites, 
whereas we are uniting, and increasingly uniting, millions 
of working people all over the world. This is now clear 
even to the blind, one might say, or at least to those who 
will not see. Our enemies grew more and more disunited 




as time went on. They were disunited by capitalist prop 
erty, by private property under commodity production, 
whether they were small proprietors who profiteered by 
selling surplus grain at exorbitant prices and enriched 
themselves at the expense of the starving workers, or the 
capitalists of the various countries, even though they 
possessed military might and were creating a League of 
Nations, a “great united league” of all the foremost nations 
of the world. Unity of this kind is a sheer fiction, a sheer 
fraud, a sheer lie. And we have seen—and this was a great 
example—that this notorious League of Nations, which 
attempted to hand out mandates for the government of 
states, to divide up the world—that this notorious alliance 
proved to be a soap-bubble which at once burst, because 
it was an alliance founded on capitalist property. We have 
seen this on a vast historical scale, and it confirms that 
fundamental truth which told us that our cause was just, 
that the victory of the October Revolution was absolutely 
certain, and that the cause we were embarking on was 
one to which, despite all difficulties and obstacles, millions 
and millions of working people in all countries would 
rally. We knew that we had allies, that it was only neces¬ 
sary for the one country to which history had presented 
this honourable and most difficult task to display a spirit 
of self-sacrifice, for these incredible sacrifices to be repaid 
a hundredfold—every month we held out in our country 
would win us millions and millions of allies in all countries 
of the world. 

If, after all, we give some thought to the reason why we 
were able to win, were bound to win, we shall find that it 
was only because all our enemies—who were formally tied 
by all sorts of bonds to the most powerful governments 
and capitalists in the world—however united they may 
have been formally, actually turned out to be disunited. 
Their internal bond in fact disunited them, pitted them 
against each other. Capitalist property disintegrated them, 
transformed them from allies into savage beasts, so that 
they failed to see that Soviet Russia was increasing the 
number of her followers among the British soldiers who 
had been landed in Archangel, among the French sailors 
in Sevastopol, among the workers of all countries, of all 



the advanced countries without exception, where the social- 
compromisers took the side of capital. In the final analysis 
this was the fundamental reason, the underlying reason, 
that made our victory certain and which is still the chief, 
insuperable and inexhaustible source of our strength; and 
it permits us to affirm that when we in our country achieve 
the dictatorship of the proletariat in full measure, and 
the maximum unity of its forces, through its vanguard, its 
advanced party, we may expect the world revolution. And 
this in fact is an expression of will, an expression of the 
proletarian determination to fight; it is an expression of 
the proletarian determination to achieve an alliance of 
millions upon millions of workers of all countries. 

The bourgeoisie and the pseudo-socialist gentry of the 
Second International have declared this to be mere prop¬ 
agandist talk. But it is not, it is historical reality, borne 
out by the bloody and painful experience of the Civil War 
in Russia. For this Civil War was a war against world 
capital; and world capital disintegrated of itself, devoured 
itself, amidst strife, whereas we, in a country where the 
proletariat was'perishing from hunger and typhus, emerged 
more hardened and stronger than ever. In this country we 
won the support of increasing numbers of working people. 
What the compromisers formerly regarded as propagandist 
talk and the bourgeoisie were accustomed to sneer at, has 
been transformed in these years of our revolution, and 
particularly in the year under review, into an absolute and 
indisputable historical fact, which enables us to say with 
the most positive conviction that our having accomplished 
this is evidence that we possess a world wide basis, 
immeasurably wider than was the case in any previous 
revolution. We have an international alliance, an alliance 
which has nowhere been registered, which has never been 
given formal embodiment, which from the point of view 
of “constitutional law” means nothing, but which, in the 
disintegrating capitalist world, actually means everything. 
Every month that we gained positions, or merely held out 
against an incredibly powerful enemy, proved to the 
whole world that we were right and brought us millions 
of new supporters. 

This process has been a difficult one; it has been accom- 



panied by tremendous defeats. In this very year under 
review the monstrous White terror in Finland 85 was 
followed by the defeat of the Hungarian revolution, 86 
which was stifled by the governments of the Entente coun¬ 
tries that deceived their parliaments and concluded a 
secret treaty with Rumania. 

It was the vilest piece of treachery, this conspiracj' of 
the international Entente to crush the Hungarian revolu¬ 
tion by means of a White terror, not to mention the fact 
that in order to strangle the German revolution they were 
ready for any understanding with the German compro¬ 
misers, and that these people, who had declared Liebknecht 
to be an honest German, pounced on this honest German 
like mad dogs together with the German imperialists. They 
exceeded all conceivable bounds; but every such act of 
suppression on their part only strengthened and consoli¬ 
dated us, while it undermined them. 

And it seems to me that we must first and foremost 
draw a lesson from this fundamental experience. Here we 
must make a special point of basing our agitation and 
propaganda on an analysis, an explanation of why we were 
victorious, why the sacrifices made in the Civil War have 
been repaid a hundredfold, and how we must act, on the 
basis of this experience, in order to succeed in another 
war, a war on a bloodless front, a war which has only 
changed its form, but which is being waged against us 
by those same representatives, lackeys and leaders of the 
old capitalist world, only still more vigorously, still more 
furiously, still more zealously. More than any other, our 
revolution has proved the rule that the strength of a rev¬ 
olution, the vigour of its assault, its energy, determination, 
its victory and its triumph intensify the resistance of the 
bourgeoisie. The more victorious we are the more the 
capitalist exploiters learn to unite and the more deter¬ 
mined their onslaught. For, as you all distinctly remem¬ 
ber—it was not so long ago when judged by the passage 
of time, but a long time ago when judged by the march of 
events—at the beginning of the October Revolution 
Bolshevism was regarded as a freak; this view, which was 
a reflection of the feeble development and weakness of 
the proletarian revolution, very soon had to be abandoned 



in Russia and has now been abandoned in Europe as well. 
Bolshevism has become a world wide phenomenon, the 
workers’ revolution has raised its head. The Soviet system, 
in creating which in October we followed the traditions 
of 1905, developing our own experience—this Soviet 
system has become a phenomenon of world-historic 

Two camps are now quite consciously facing each other 
all over the world; this may be said without the slightest 
exaggeration. It should be noted that only this year have 
they become locked in a decisive and final struggle. And 
now, at the time of this very Congress, we are passing 
through what is perhaps one of the greatest, most acute 
but not yet completed periods of transition from war to 

You all know what happened to the leaders of the 
imperialist powers of the Entente who loudly announced 
to the whole world: “We shall never stop fighting those 
usurpers, those bandits, those arrogators of power, those 
enemies of democracy, those Bolsheviks”—you know that 
first they lifted the blockade, that their attempt to unite 
the small states failed, because we succeeded in winning 
over not only the workers of all countries, but also the 
bourgeoisie of the small countries, for the imperialists 
oppress not only the workers of their own countries but 
the bourgeoisie of the small states as well. You know that 
we won over the vacillating bourgeoisie in the advanced 
countries. And the present position is that the Entente is 
breaking its former promises and assurances and is violat¬ 
ing the treaties which, incidentally, it concluded dozens of 
times with various Russian whiteguards. And now, as far 
as these treaties are concerned, the Entente is the loser, 
for it squandered hundreds of millions on them but failed 
to complete the job. 

It has now lifted the blockade and has virtually begun 
peace negotiations with the Soviet Republic. But it is not 
completing these negotiations, and therefore the small 
states have lost faith in it and in its might. So we see that 
the position of the Entente, its position in foreign affairs, 
defies all definition from the standpoint of the customary 
concepts of law. The states of the Entente are neither at 



peace with the Bolsheviks nor at war with them; they have 
recognised us and they have not recognised us. And this 
utter confusion among our opponents, who were so con¬ 
vinced that they represented something, proves that they 
represent nothing but a pack of capitalist beasts who have 
fallen out among themselves and are absolutely incapable 
of doing us any harm. 

The position today is that Latvia has officially made 
peace proposals to us. Finland has sent a telegram which 
officially speaks of a demarcation line but actually implies 
a swing to a policy of peace. 87 Lastly, Poland, the Poland 
whose representatives have been, and still are, sabre- 
rattling so vigorously, the Poland that has been, and still 
is receiving so many trainloads of artillery and promises 
of help in everything, if only she would continue the war 
with Russia—even Poland, the unstable position of whose 
government compels her to consent to any military 
gamble, has invited us to begin negotiations for peace. 88 
We must be extremely cautious. Our policy demands 
the most careful thought. Here it is hardest of all to find 
the proper policy, for nobody as yet knows on what track 
the train is standing; the enemy himself does not know 
what he is going to do next. The gentlemen who represent 
French policy and who are most zealous in egging Poland 
on, and the leaders of landowner and bourgeois Poland 
do not know what will happen next; they do not know 
what they want. Today they say, “Gentlemen, let us have 
a few trainloads of guns and a few hundred millions and 
we are prepared to fight the Bolsheviks.” They are hush¬ 
ing up the news of the strikes that are spreading in 
Poland; they are tightening up the censorship so as to 
conceal the truth. But the revolutionary movement in 
Poland is growing. The spread of revolution in Germany, in 
its new phase, in its new stage, now that the workers, 
after the German Kornilov-type putsch, 89 are creating Red 
Armies, plainly shows (as can be seen from the recent dis¬ 
patches from Germany) that the temper of the workers is 
rising more and more. The Polish bourgeoisie and land- 
owners are themselves beginning to wonder whether it 
is not too late, whether there will not be a Soviet Republic 
in Poland before the government acts either for war or for 



peace. They do not know what to do. They do not know 
what the morrow will bring. 

But we know that our forces are growing vastly every 
month, and will grow even more in future. The result is 
that our international position is now more stable than 
ever. But we must watch the international crisis with 
extreme care and be prepared for any eventuality. We have 
received a formal offer of peace from Poland. These gen¬ 
tlemen are in desperate straits, so desperate that their 
friends, the German monarchists, people with better train¬ 
ing and more political experience and knowledge, plunged 
into a venturous gamble, a Kornilov-type putsch. The 
Polish bourgeoisie are throwing out offers of peace be¬ 
cause they know that any venturous gamble may prove to 
be a Polish Kornilov-type affair. Knowing that our enemy 
is in desperate straits, that our enemy does not know 
what he wants to do or what he will do tomorrow, we 
must tell ourselves quite definitely that in spite of the 
peace overtures war is possible. It is impossible to foretell 
what their future conduct will be. We have seen these 
people before, we know these Kerenskys, these Menshe¬ 
viks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. During the past two 
years we have seen them one day drawn towards Kolchak, 
the next day almost towards the Bolsheviks, and then 
towards Denikin—and all this camouflaged by talk about 
freedom and democracy. We know these gentlemen, and 
therefore we grasp at the proposal of peace with both 
hands and are prepared to make the maximum conces¬ 
sions, in the conviction that the conclusion of peace with 
the small states will further our cause infinitely more than 
war. For the imperialists used war to deceive the working 
masses, they used it to conceal the truth about Soviet 
Russia. Any peace, therefore, will open channels for our 
influence a hundred times wider, which, as it is, has grown 
considerably in these past few years. The Third, Com¬ 
munist International has achieved unparalleled successes. 
But at the same time we know that war may be forced 
upon us any day. Our enemies do not themselves know as 
yet what they are capable of doing in this respect. 

That war preparations are under way, of that there is 
not the slightest doubt. Many of the states bordering on 



Russia—and perhaps many of those not bordering on Rus¬ 
sia—are now arming. That is why we must manoeuvre so 
flexibly in our international policy and adhere so firmly 
to the course we have taken, that is why we must be pre¬ 
pared for anything. We have waged the war for peace 
with extreme vigour. This war is yielding splendid results. 
We have made a very good showing in this sphere of the 
struggle, at any rate, not inferior to the showing made by 
the Red Army on the front where blood is being shed. But 
the conclusion of peace with us does not depend on the will 
of the small states even if they desire it. They are up to 
their ears in debt to the countries of the Entente, who 
are wrangling and competing desperately among them¬ 
selves. We must therefore remember that peace is of course 
possible from the point of view of the world situation, the 
historical situation created by the Civil War and by the 
war against the Entente. 

But the measures we take for peace must be accompa¬ 
nied by intensified preparedness for defence, and in no case 
must our army be disarmed. Our army offers a real 
guarantee that the imperialist powers will not make the 
slightest attempt or encroachment on us; for although they 
might count on certain ephemeral successes at first, not 
one of them would escape defeat at the hands of Soviet 
Russia. That we must realise, that must be made the basis 
of our agitation and propaganda, that is what we must 
prepare for, in order to solve the problem which, in view 
of our growing fatigue, compels us to combine the one 
with the other. 

Published ill the book 
Ninth Congress of the Russian 
Communist Party. Verbatim 
Report, Moscow, 1920 

Collected Works, Voi. 30, 
pp. 445-53 




First of all permit me to thank you for sending your 
delegation here to acquaint themselves with Soviet Russia. 
When your delegation suggested to me that I should send 
a letter through them to the British workers and perhaps 
also proposals to the British Government, I replied that 
I gratefully accepted the first suggestion but that I must 
address myself to the government, not through a workers’ 
delegation but directly, on behalf of our government, 
through Comrade Chicherin. We have on very many 
occasions addressed ourselves this way to the British Gov¬ 
ernment, making the most formal and solemn proposals 
to start peace talks. All our representatives—Comrade Lit¬ 
vinov, Comrade Krasin and the rest—are unceasingly 
continuing to make these proposals. The British Govern¬ 
ment stubbornly refuses to accept them. It is not surpris¬ 
ing, therefore, that I desired to speak to the delegates of 
the British workers exclusively as delegates of the workers, 
not as a representative of the government of Soviet Rus¬ 
sia, but simply as a Communist. 

I was not surprised to find that several members of your 
delegation hold a standpoint, not of the working class but 
of the bourgeoisie, of the exploiting class: in all capital¬ 
ist countries the imperialist war fully revealed an old 
ulcer, namely, the desertion of the majority of the work¬ 
ers’ parliamentary and trade union leaders to the side 
of the bourgeoisie. On the false pretext of “defence of 
country” they were actually defending the predatory in- 



terests of either of the two groups of robbers of the entire 
world—the Anglo-American-French group, or the German 
group; they entered into an alliance with the bourgeoisie, 
against the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat; they 
covered up this treachery with sentimental petty-bourgeois 
reformist arid pacifist phrases about peaceful evolution, 
constitutional methods, democracy, etc. This is what hap¬ 
pened in all countries; it is not surprising that in Britain 
this state of affairs has also been reflected in the compo¬ 
sition of your delegation. 

Members of your delegation, Shaw and Guest—obviously 
surprised and hurt by my statement that Britain, notwith¬ 
standing our peace proposals and notwithstanding the 
declarations of her government, is continuing her inter¬ 
vention, waging war against us and helping Wrangel in 
the Crimea and whiteguard Poland—asked me whether 
I had proof of this, and whether I could show how many 
trainloads of military supplies Britain had provided Po¬ 
land with, etc. I replied that, to obtain the secret treaties 
of the British Government, it was necessary to overthrow 
it in a revolutionary manner and to seize all its foreign 
policy documents in the same way as we did in 1917. Any 
educated man, anybody sincerely interested in politics, 
was aware even prior to our revolution that the tsar had 
secret treaties with the predatory governments of Britain, 
France, America, Italy and Japan concerning the division 
of the spoils, concerning Constantinople, Galicia, Armenia, 
Syria, Mesopotamia, etc. Only liars and hypocrites (exclud¬ 
ing, of course, absolutely ignorant, backward and illiter¬ 
ate people) could deny this, or pretend not to know of 
this. However, without a revolution, we could never have 
obtained the secret documents of the predatory govern¬ 
ments of the capitalist class. Those leaders or representa¬ 
tives of the British proletariat—whether they are members 
of Parliament, trade union leaders, journalists, or others 
—who pretend ignorance of the secret treaties between 
Britain, France, America, Italy, Japan and Poland concern¬ 
ing the plunder of other countries, concerning the divi¬ 
sion of the spoils, and who do not wage a revolutionary 
struggle in order to expose these treaties, are merely once 
again showing that they are faithful servants of the capi- 



talists. We have known this for a long time; we are expos¬ 
ing this in our own country and in all other countries of 
the world. The visit to Russia of a delegation of the British 
workers will hasten the exposure of such leaders in Britain 

I had a conversation with your delegation on Wednes¬ 
day, May 26. On the following day telegrams arrived stat¬ 
ing that Bonar Law had admitted in the British Parlia¬ 
ment that military aid had been given to Poland in Octo¬ 
ber, “for defence against Russia” (of course only for de¬ 
fence, and only in October! There are still “influential 
labour leaders” in Britain who are helping the capitalists 
to dupe the workers!), but the New Statesman, the most 
moderate of moderate petty-bourgeois newspapers or jour¬ 
nals, wrote of tanks being supplied to Poland, which were 
more powerful than those used against the Germans dur¬ 
ing the war. After this, can one refrain from ridiculing 
such “leaders” of the British workers that ask with an 
air of injured innocence whether there is any “proof” that 
Britain is fighting against Russia and is helping Poland 
and the whiteguards in the Crimea? 

Members of the delegation asked me which I considered 
more important: the formation in Britain of a consistently 
revolutionary Communist Party, or obtaining the imme¬ 
diate aid of the masses of the workers in Britain for the 
cause of peace with Russia. I replied that this is a matter 
of one’s convictions. Sincere supporters of the emancipa¬ 
tion of the workers from the yoke of capital cannot pos¬ 
sibly be opposed to the formation of a Communist Party, 
which alone is capable of training the workers in a non¬ 
bourgeois and non-petty-bourgeois manner, and is alone 
capable of genuinely exposing, ridiculing and disgracing 
“leaders” who can doubt whether Britain is helping Po¬ 
land, etc. There is no need to fear the Communists will be 
too numerous in Britain, because there is not even a small 
Communist Party there. But if anyone continues to re¬ 
main in intellectual slavery to the bourgeoisie, and con¬ 
tinues to share petty-bourgeois prejudices about “democ¬ 
racy” (bourgeois democracy), pacifism, etc., then of course 
such people would only do more harm to the proletar¬ 
iat if they took it into their heads to call themselves Com- 



munists and affiliate to the Third International. All that 
these people are capable of doing is to pass sentimental 
‘‘resolutions” against intervention couched exclusively in 
philistine phrases. In a certain sense these resolutions are 
also useful, namely, in the sense that the old “leaders” 
(adherents of bourgeois democracy, of peaceful methods, 
etc., etc.) will make themselves ridiculous in the eyes of 
the masses, and the more they pass empty, non-committal 
resolutions unaccompanied by revolutionary action, the 
sooner will they expose themselves. Let each man stick to 
his job: let the Communists work directly through their 
Party, awakening the revolutionary consciousness of the 
workers. Let those who supported the “defence of country” 
during the imperialist war for the partitioning of the 
world, “defence” of the secret treaty between the British 
capitalists and the tsar to plunder Turkey, let those who 
“do not see” that Britain is helping Poland and the white- 
guards in Russia—let such people hasten to increase the 
number of their “peace resolutions” to the point of becom¬ 
ing ridiculous; the more they do that, the sooner will they 
meet with the fate of Kerensky, the Mensheviks and the 
Socialist-Revolutionaries in Russia. 

Several members of your delegation questioned me with 
surprise about the Red terror, about the absence of free¬ 
dom of the press in Russia, of freedom of assembly, about 
our persecution of Mensheviks and pro-Menshevik workers, 
etc. My reply was that the real cause of the terror is the 
British imperialists and their “allies”, who practised and 
are still practising a White terror in Finland and in Hun¬ 
gary, in India and in Ireland, who have been supporting 
Yudenich, Kolchak, Denikin, Pilsudski and Wrangel. Our 
Red terror is a defence of the working class against the 
exploiters, the crushing of resistance from the exploiters 
with whom the Socialist-Revolutionaries, the Mensheviks 
and an insignificant number of pro-Menshevik workers 
have sided. Freedom of the press and assembly under bour¬ 
geois democracy is freedom for the wealthy to conspire 
against the working people, freedom for the capitalists to 
bribe and buy up the press. I have explained this in news¬ 
paper articles so often that I have derived no pleasure in 
repeating myself. 



Two days after my talk with your delegation, the news 
papers reported that, besides the arrests of Monatte and 
Loriot in France, Sylvia Pankhurst had been arrested in 
Britain. This is the best possible reply the British Govern¬ 
ment could give to a question that the non-Communist 
British labour “leaders”, who are captives to bourgeois 
prejudices, are afraid even to ask, namely, which class the 
terror is directed against—the oppressed and exploited, or 
the oppressors and exploiters? Is it a question of the 
“freedom” of the capitalists to rob, deceive and dupe the 
working people, or of the “freedom” of the toilers from 
the yoke of the capitalists, the speculators and the 
property-owners? Comrade Sylvia Pankhurst represents the 
interests of hundreds upon hundreds of millions of people 
that are oppressed by the British and other capitalists. 
That is why she is subjected to a White terror, has been 
deprived of liberty, etc. The labour “leaders” who pursue 
a non-Communist policy are 99 per cent representatives of 
the bourgeoisie, of its deceit, its prejudices. 

In conclusion, I want to thank you once again, com¬ 
rades, for having sent your delegation here. Despite the hos¬ 
tility of many of the delegates towards the Soviet system 
and the dictatorship of the proletariat, and although many 
of them are in the grip of bourgeois prejudices, their ac¬ 
quaintance with Soviet Russia will inevitably accelerate 
the collapse of capitalism throughout the world. 


N. Lenin 

Pravda No. 130, 
June 17, 1920 

Collected WcrA’s, Vol. 31, 
pp. 139-43 



For the Second Congress of the Communist International 

In submitting for discussion by the Second Congress of 
the Communist International the following draft theses on 
the national and colonial questions I would request all 
comrades, especially those who possess concrete informa¬ 
tion on any of these very complex problems, to let me have 
their opinions, amendments, addenda and concrete re¬ 
marks in the most concise form (no more than two or three 
pages), particularly on the following points: 

Austrian experience; 

Polish-Jewish and Ukrainian experience; 

Alsace-Lorraine and Belgium; 


Danish-German, Italo-French and Italo-Slav 

Balkan experience; 

Eastern peoples; 

The struggle against Pan-Islamism; 

Relations in the Caucasus; 

The Bashkir and Tatar Republics; 


Turkestan, its experience; 

Negroes in America; 


China-Korea-J apan. 

N. Lenin 

June 5, 1920 

theses on the national and colonial QUESTIONS 225 

1) An abstract or formal posing of the problem of equal¬ 
ity in general and national equality in particular is in the 
very nature of bourgeois democracy. Under the guise of 
the equality of the individual in general, bourgeois 
democracy proclaims the formal or legal equality of the 
property-owner and the proletarian, the exploiter and the 
exploited, thereby grossly deceiving the oppressed classes. 
On the plea that all men are absolutely equal, the bourgeoi¬ 
sie is transforming the idea of equality, which is itself a 
reflection of relations in commodity production, into a 
weapon in its struggle against the abolition of classes. The 
real meaning of the demand for equality consists in its 
being a demand for the abolition of classes. 

2) In conformity with its fundamental task of combat¬ 
ing bourgeois democracy and exposing its falseness and 
hypocrisy, the Communist Party, as the avowed champion 
of the proletarian struggle to overthrow the bourgeois 
yoke, must base its policy, in the national question too, 
not on abstract and formal principles but, first, on a pre¬ 
cise appraisal of the specific historical situation and, pri¬ 
marily, of economic conditions; second, on a clear distinc¬ 
tion between the interests of the oppressed classes, of 
working and exploited people, and the general concept of 
national interests as a whole, which implies the interests 
of the ruling class; third, on an equally clear distinction 
between the oppressed, dependent and subject nations and 
the oppressing, exploiting and sovereign nations, in order 
to counter the bourgeois-democratic lies that play down 
this colonial and financial enslavement of the vast major¬ 
ity of the world’s population by an insignificant minority 
of the richest and advanced capitalist countries, a feature 
characteristic of the era of finance capital and imperial¬ 

3) The imperialist war of 1914-18 has very clearly re¬ 
vealed to all nations and 'to the oppressed classes of the 
whole world the falseness of bourgeois-democratic phrases, 
by practically demonstrating that the Treaty of Ver¬ 
sailles of the celebrated “Western democracies” is an even 
more brutal and foul act of violence against weak na¬ 
tions than was the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk of the German 
Junkers and the Kaiser. The League of Nations and the 



entire post-war policy of the Entente reveal this truth with 
even greater clarity and distinctness. They are everywhere 
intensifying the revolutionary struggle both of the prole¬ 
tariat in the advanced countries and of the toiling masses 
in the colonial and dependent countries. They are hasten¬ 
ing the collapse of the petty-bourgeois nationalist illusions 
that nations can live together in peace and equality under 

4) From these fundamental premises it follows that the 
Communist International’s entire policy on the national 
and colonial questions should rest primarily on a closer 
union of the proletarians and the working masses of all 
nations and countries for a joint revolutionary struggle to 
overthrow the landowners and the bourgeoisie. This union 
alone will guarantee victory over capitalism, without which 
the abolition of national oppression and inequality is im¬ 

5) The world political situation has now placed the dic¬ 
tatorship of the proletariat on the order of the day. World 
political developments are of necessity concentrated on 
a single focus—the struggle of the world bourgeoisie 
against the Soviet Russian Republic, around which are 
inevitably grouped, on the one hand, the Soviet movements 
of the advanced workers in all countries, and, on the other, 
all the national liberation movements in the colonies and 
among the oppressed nationalities, who are learning from 
bitter experience that their only salvation lies in the So¬ 
viet system’s victory over world imperialism. 

6) Consequently, one cannot at present confine oneself 
to a bare recognition or proclamation of the need for 
closer union between the working people of the various 
nations; a policy must be pursued that will achieve the 
closest alliance, with Soviet Russia, of all the national and 
colonial liberation movements. The form of this alliance 
should be determined by the degree of development of the 
communist movement among the proletariat of each coun¬ 
try, or of the bourgeois-democratic liberation movement 
of the workers and peasants in backward countries or 
among backward nationalities. 

1) Federation is a transitional form to the complete 
unity of the working people of different nations. The fea- 


sibility of federation has already been demonstrated in 
practice both by the relations between the R.S.F.S.R. and 
other Soviet Republics (the Hungarian, Finnish and Lat¬ 
vian in the past, and the Azerbaijan and Ukrainian at pres¬ 
ent), and by the relations within the R.S.F.S.R, in respect 
of nationalities which formerly enjoyed neither statehood 
nor autonomy (e.g., the Bashkir and Tatar autonomous 
republics in the R.S.F.S.R., founded in 1919 and 1920 

8) In this respect, it is the task of the Communist In¬ 
ternational to further develop and also to study and test 
by experience these new federations, which are arising on 
the basis of the Soviet system and the Soviet movement. 
In recognising that federation is a transitional form to 
complete unity, it is necessary to strive for ever closer fed¬ 
eral unity, bearing in mind, first,'that the Soviet republics, 
surrounded as they are by the imperialist powers of the 
whole world—which from the military standpoint are im¬ 
measurably stronger—cannot possibly continue to exist 
without the closest alliance; second, that a close economic 
alliance between the Soviet republics is necessary, other¬ 
wise the productive forces which have been ruined by 
imperialism cannot be restored and the well-being of the 
working people cannot be ensured; third, that there is a 
tendency towards the creation of a single world economy, 
regulated by the proletariat of all nations as an integral 
whole and according to a common plan. This tendency 
has already revealed itself quite clearly under capitalism 
and is bound to be further developed and consummated 
under socialism. 

9) The Communist International’s national policy in the 
sphere of relations within the state cannot be restricted to 
the bare, formal, purely declaratory and actually non¬ 
committal recognition of the equality of nations to which 
the bourgeois democrats confine themselves—both those 
who frankly admit being such, and those who assume the 
name of socialists (such as the socialists of the Second 

In all their propaganda and agitation-—both within par¬ 
liament and outside it—the Communist parties must con¬ 
sistently expose that constant violation of the equality of 



nations and of the guaranteed rights of national minori¬ 
ties which is to be seen in all capitalist countries, despite 
their “democratic” constitutions. It is also necessary, first, 
constantly to explain that only the Soviet system is capa¬ 
ble of ensuring genuine equality of nations, by uniting 
first the proletarians and then the whole mass of the work 
ing population in the struggle against the bourgeoisie; and, 
second, that all Communist parties should render direct 
aid to the revolutionary movements among the dependent 
and underprivileged nations (for example, Ireland, the 
American Negroes, etc.) and in the colonies. 

Without the latter condition, which is particularly im¬ 
portant, the struggle against the oppression of dependent 
nations and colonies, as well as recognition of their right 
to secede, are but a false signboard, as is evidenced by the 
parties of the Second International. 

10) Recognition of internationalism in word, .and its 
replacement in deed by petty-bourgeois nationalism and 
pacifism, in all propaganda, agitation and practical work, 
is very common, not only among the parties of the Second 
International, but also among those which have withdrawn 
from it, and often even among parties which now call 
themselves communist. The urgency of the struggle against 
this evil, against the most deep-rooted petty-bourgeois na¬ 
tional prejudices, looms ever larger with the mounting 
exigency of the task of converting the dictatorship of the 
proletariat from a national dictatorship (i.e., existing in a 
single country and incapable of determining world politics) 
into an international one (i.e., a dictatorship of the prole¬ 
tariat involving at least several advanced countries, and 
capable of exercising a decisive influence upon world 
politics as a whole). Petty-bourgeois nationalism proclaims 
as internationalism the mere recognition of the equality 
of nations, and nothing more. Quite apart from the fact 
that this recognition is purely verbal, petty-bourgeois na¬ 
tionalism preserves national self-interest intact, whereas 
proletarian internationalism demands, first, that the in¬ 
terests of the proletarian struggle in any one country 
should be subordinated to the interests of that struggle on 
a world wide scale, and, second, that a nation which is 
achieving victory over the bourgeoisie should be able and 



willing to make the greatest national sacrifices for the 
overthrow of international capital. 

Thus, in countries that are already fully capitalist and 
have workers’ parties that really act as the vanguard of 
the proletariat, the struggle against opportunist and petty- 
bourgeois pacifist distortions of the concept and policy of 
internationalism is a primary and cardinal task. 

11) With regard to the more backward states and na¬ 
tions, in which feudal or patriarchal and patriarchal-peas¬ 
ant relations predominate, it is particularly important to 
bear in mind: 

first, that all Communist parties must assist the bour¬ 
geois-democratic liberation movement in these countries, 
and that the duty of rendering the most active assistance 
rests primarily with the workers of the country the back 
ward nation is colonially or financially dependent on; 

second, the need for a struggle against the clergy and 
other influential reactionary and medieval elements in 
backward countries; 

third, the need to combat Pan-Islamism and similar 
trends, which strive to combine the liberation movement 
against European and American imperialism with an at¬ 
tempt to strengthen the positions of the khans, landown¬ 
ers, mullahs, etc.;* 

fourth, the need, in backward countries, to give special 
support to the peasant movement against the landowners, 
against landed proprietorship, and against all manifesta¬ 
tions or survivals of feudalism, and to strive to lend the 
peasant movement the most revolutionary character by 
establishing the closest possible alliance between the West- 
European communist proletariat and the revolutionary 
peasant movement in the East, in the colonies, and in the 
backward countries generally. It is particularly necessary 
to exert every effort to apply the basic principles of the 
Soviet system in countries where pre-capitalist relations 
predominate—by setting up “working people’s Soviets”, 

fifth, the need for a determined struggle against attempts 
to give a c ommunist colouring to bourgeois-democratic 

* In the proofs Lenin inserted a brace opposite points 2 and 3 
and wrote “2 and 3 to be united”.— Ed. 



liberation trends in the backward countries; the Commu¬ 
nist International should support bourgeois-democratic na¬ 
tional movements in colonial and backward countries only 
on condition that, in these countries, the elements of fu¬ 
ture proletarian parties, which will be communist not only 
in name, are brought together and trained to understand 
their special tasks, i.e., those of the struggle against the 
bourgeois-democratic movements within their own nations. 
The Communist International must enter into a temporary 
alliance with bourgeois democracy in the colonial and 
backward countries, but should not merge with it, and 
should under all circumstances uphold the independence 
of the proletarian movement even if it is in its most 
embryonic form; 

sixth, the need constantly to explain and expose among 
the broadest working masses of all countries, and partic¬ 
ularly of the backward countries, the deception system¬ 
atically practised by the imperialist powers, which, under 
the guise of politically independent states, set up states 
that are wholly dependent upon them economically, finan¬ 
cially and militarily. Under present-day international con¬ 
ditions there is no salvation for dependent and weak na¬ 
tions except in a union of Soviet republics. 

12) The age-old oppression of colonial and weak nation¬ 
alities by the imperialist powers has not only filled the 
working masses of the oppressed countries with animosity 
towards the oppressor nations, but has also aroused dis¬ 
trust in these nations in general, even in their proletariat. 
The despicable betrayal of socialism by the majority of 
the official leaders of this proletariat in 1914-19, when 
“defence of country” was used as a social-chauvinist cloak 
to conceal the defence of the “right” of their “own” bour¬ 
geoisie to oppress colonies and fleece financially dependent 
countries, was certain to enhance this perfectly legitimate 
distrust. On the other hand, the more backward the coun¬ 
try, the stronger is the hold of small-scale agricultural pro¬ 
duction, patriarchalism and isolation, which inevitably 
lend particular strength and tenacity to the deepest of 
petty-bourgeois prejudices, i.e., to national egoism and na¬ 
tional narrow-mindedness. These prejudices are bound to 
die out very slowly, for they can disappear only after im- 



perialism and capitalism have disappeared in the advanced 
countries, and after the entire foundation of the back¬ 
ward countries’ economic life has radically changed. It is 
therefore the duty of the class-conscious communist pro¬ 
letariat of all countries to regard with particular caution 
and attention the survivals of national sentiments in the 
countries and among nationalities which have been op¬ 
pressed the longest; it is equally necessary to make certain 
concessions with a view to more rapidly overcoming this 
distrust and these prejudices. Complete victory over 
capitalism cannot be won unless the proletariat and, follow¬ 
ing it, the mass of working people in all countries and 
nations throughout the world voluntarily strive for alliance 
and. unity. 

Published in June 1920 Collected Works , Vol. 31, 

pp. 144-51 



JUNE 12, 1920 92 

As regards the Republic’s international standing, you 
are of course well aware of the main facts about the Polish 
offensive. An incredible number of lies are being spread 
on this subject abroad, due to the so-called freedom of the 
press, which consists in all the most important organs of 
the press abroad being bought up by the capitalists, and 
being filled 99 per cent with articles by mercenary hacks. 
That is what they call freedom of the press, due to which 
there is no limit to the lies that are being spread. With re¬ 
gard to the Polish offensive in particular, they are trying 
to make out that the Bolsheviks presented impossible de¬ 
mands to Poland and launched an offensive, whereas you 
all know very well that we fully consented even to the im¬ 
mense frontiers held by the Poles before the offensive be¬ 
gan. We set more store by the lives of our Red Army men 
than by a war for Byelorussia and Lithuania, which the 
Poles had seized. We declared in the most solemn terms— 
not only in the name of the Council of People’s Commis¬ 
sars, but also in a special manifesto of the All-Russia Cen¬ 
tral Executive Committee, the supreme body in the Soviet 
Republic—we declared to the Polish Government, to the 
bourgeois and landowner government, besides appealing 
to the Polish workers and peasants, that we proposed ne¬ 
gotiations for peace on the basis of the front that existed 



at the time, i.e., the front that left Lithuania and Byelo¬ 
russia—non Polish territory—in the hands of the Poles. 
We were and still are convinced that the Polish 
landowners and capitalists will be unable to retain foreign 
territory, and that we shall gain more even from the most 
unfavourable peace, since we shall save the lives of our 
Red Army men, and every month of. peace makes us ten 
times as strong, whereas to every other government, 
including the bourgeois government of Poland, every 
month of peace means greater and greater disintegration. 
Although our peace proposals were very far-reaching, and 
although certain very hasty and, as far as talking goes, 
highly revolutionary revolutionaries, even called our 
proposals Tolstoyan—when, as a matter of fact, the 
Bolsheviks’ actions have, I think, shown sufficiently that 
there is not a jot of Tolstoyanism in us—we considered it 
our duty, in the face of such a thing as war, to show that 
we were prepared to make the maximum possible conces¬ 
sions, and especially to show that we would not wage war 
for boundaries for which so much blood had been spilt, 
since to us that was a matter of little significance. 

We were prepared to make concessions no other govern 
ment can make; we offered Poland territory which it 
would be useful to compare with that described in a 
document published yesterday, I think, and coming from 
the supreme organ of the Allies, the British, French and 
other imperialists, in which Poland’s eastern frontiers are 
indicated. 93 

These capitalists in Britain and France imagine that it 
is they who lay down boundaries. But, thank goodness, 
there are others besides them who do that—the workers 
and peasants have learnt to establish their boundaries 

These capitalists have fixed the Polish boundaries much 
farther to the west than those we proposed. This docu¬ 
ment, coming from the Allies in Paris, is clear proof that 
they have arrived at a deal with Wrangel. They assure 
us that they want peace with Soviet Russia, that they 
support neither Poland nor Wrangel. We, however, say 
that it is an unscrupulous lie with which they are trying 
to shield themselves; for they say that they are not 



supplying any more arms, when as a matter of fact they 
are supplying them just as they did several months ago. 
Today’s reports state that rich trophies have been 
captured—a carload of new British machine guns; Com¬ 
rade Trotsky reports that brand-new French cartridges 
were captured the other day. What other confirmation do 
we need that Poland is acting with the aid of British and 
French equipment, with the aid of British and French 
cartridges, that she is acting with the aid of British and 
French money? If they now declare that Poland will her¬ 
self establish her eastern borders, then that is in con¬ 
sequence of a direct deal with Wrangel. That is obvious to 
anybody. The entire situation makes it perfectly clear that 
the Polish landowners and bourgeoisie are fighting exclu¬ 
sively with the aid of the British and the French. The 
latter, however, are lying brazenly, just as they did when 
they assured us that they had not sent Bullitt, until he 
finally returned to America and came out and published 
the documents he had gathered here. 

These gentlemen, these capitalist tradesmen, cannot act 
contrary to their nature. That is obvious. They can only 
reason like tradesmen. When our diplomats do not act 
like tradesmen, and when we say that the lives of our Red 
Army men are more precious to us than any vast boundary 
changes they, of course, with their purely tradesmen’s 
reasoning, cannot understand it. When, a year ago, we 
proposed to Bullitt a treaty which was extremely favour¬ 
able to them and extremely unfavourable to us, a treaty 
that would have left huge territories in the hands of 
Denikin and Kolchak, we did so in the certainty that, if 
peace were concluded, the whiteguard government would 
never be able to retain power. 

With their tradesmen’s reasoning, they could only inter¬ 
pret this as a confession of our weakness. "If the 
Bolsheviks agree to such a peace,” they argued, "“it must 
mean that they are at their last gasp.” And the bourgeois 
press exulted, the diplomats rubbed their hands with glee, 
and millions of pounds sterling were advanced to Kolchak 
and Denikin. True, they did not give them hard cash, but 
supplied them with arms at usurious prices, fully convinced 
that the Bolsheviks could not cope with them at all. The 



upshot was that Kolchak and Denikin were routed and 
their hundreds of millions of pounds went up in smoke. 
We are now getting trainload after trainload of excellent 
British equipment; you can often meet entire divisions of 
Russian Red Army men clad in excellent British uniforms; 
the other day a comrade who arrived from the Caucasus 
told me that an entire division of Red Army men are 
wearing Italian bersagliere uniforms. I am very sorry that 
I am unable to show you photographs of these Russian 
Red Army men clad in bersagliere uniforms. All I can say 
is that, after all, the British equipment has been of some 
use and that Russian Red Army men are grateful to the 
British tradesmen who have fitted them out because they 
reasoned like tradesmen, and who have been thrashed, are 
being thrashed, and will be thrashed by the Bolsheviks 
time and time again. (Applause.) 

We find the same thing with the Polish offensive. This 
is another instance of God (if he exists, of course) first 
depriving of reason those whom he would punish. The 
Entente is undoubtedly headed by very shrewd men, 
excellent politicians, yet these people commit folly after 
folly. They raise up against us one country after another, 
enabling us to smash them one by one. Why, if only they 
succeeded in uniting—and they do have the League of 
Nations and there is no corner of the earth to which their 
military power does not extend. Nobody, it would seem, 
could unite all the enemy forces better and launch them 
against the Soviets. Yet they cannot unite them. They go 
into battle part by part. They merely threaten, boast and 
bluff. Six months ago they declared that they had mustered 
fourteen states against the Soviets, and that in a matter 
of months they would be in Moscow and Petrograd. But 
today I received a pamphlet from Finland, containing the 
reminiscences of a certain whiteguard officer about the 
offensive against Petrograd; prior to that I received a 
statement of protest from several Russians of the Cadet 
brand, members of the North-Western Government, which 
tells of how certain British generals invited them to a 
conference and suggested to them through an interpreter, 
and sometimes in excellent Russian, that they should form a 
government right away, on the spot—a Russian government, 



of course, a democratic government, it goes without saying, 
in the spirit of the Constituent Assembly—and how they 
were told to sign on the dotted line. And, though they were 
bitter enemies of the Bolsheviks, these Russian officers, 
these Cadets, were outraged by the brazen insolence of 
the British officers, who dictated to them, and ordered 
them, in a tone of a drill sergeant (and only like a Russian 
one can), to sign what they were told to—and they go on 
to relate how the whole affair fell through. I regret that 
we are unable to give extensive distribution to these 
documents, to these confessions of whiteguard officers 
who took part in the advance on Petrograd. 

Why is that so? It is because their League of Nations 
is a league only in name; in fact it is a pack of wolves 
that are all the time at each other’s throats and do not 
trust one another in the least. 

As a matter of fact, they are even now boasting that 
Latvia, Rumania and Finland will join Poland in the 
attack; it is clear from the diplomatic negotiations that 
when Poland began her offensive the powers that were 
conducting peace negotiations with us changed their tone, 
and came out with statements whose insolence was some¬ 
times amazing. They reason like tradesmen—and you 
cannot expect anything else from a tradesman. It seemed 
to them that this was the time to square accounts with 
Soviet Russia, so they turned high and mighty. Let them 
do so. We have seen the same thing in the case of other 
states, far bigger ones, but we have paid no heed to that 
because, as experience has shown, all the threats from 
Finland, Rumania, Latvia and the other bourgeois states 
that are wholly dependent on the Entente, have come to 
nought. Poland signed a treaty only with Petlyura, a gen¬ 
eral without an army, which has evoked even greater 
bitterness among the Ukrainian population and has induced 
more and more semi-bourgeois elements to side with Soviet 
Russia. So, once again, instead of a general offensive, you 
have isolated action by Poland alone. And now we see that 
although our forces had to spend a lot of time on the 
move because they were farther away from the frontiers 
than the Poles were and we needed more time to bring up 
our troops, the latter have begun to advance. Some days 



ago our cavalry captured Zhitomir. Our forces have cut 
the last road linking Kiev with the Polish front both in 
the south and the north, which means that the Poles have 
lost Kiev irrevocably. At the same time we learn that 
Skolski has resigned, that the Polish Government are in 
a state of uncertainty and agitation and are already 
declaring that they will offer us new peace terms. Just as 
you please, you landowner and capitalist gentlemen! We 
will give the Polish peace terms due consideration. What 
we see is that their government are waging war against 
the wishes of their own bourgeoisie; that the Polish 
National Democrats, 94 who correspond to our Cadets and 
Octobrists 95 —the most bitter counter-revolutionary 
landowners and bourgeois—are opposed to the war, for 
they realise that they cannot win such a war, and that it is 
being run by Polish adventurers, by the Socialist-Revolu¬ 
tionaries, the Polish Socialist Party, people marked most 
by features characterising the Socialist-Revolutionaries, 
namely, revolutionary talk, boastfulness, patriotism, 
chauvinism, buffoonery and sheer claptrap. We are 
familiar with such people. When, after they have bitten off 
more than they can chew in this war, they begin to 
reshuffle their Cabinet and to say that they propose peace 
talks to us, we say: “Just as you please, gentlemen, have 
a try. We, however, are counting only on the Polish work¬ 
ers and peasants. We shall also talk peace, only not with 
you, the Polish landowners and bourgeois, but with the 
Polish workers and peasants, and we shall see what will 
come of such negotiations.” 

Comrades, despite the successes we are gaining on the 
Polish front, the position at present demands every effort 
of us. The most dangerous thing in a war that breaks out 
in conditions like those in the present war with Poland is 
to underrate the enemy and to reassure ourselves with the 
thought that we are the stronger. That is a most dangerous 
thing, which may lead to defeat in the war; it is the worst 
feature in the Russian character, which expresses itself in 
enervation and flabbiness. It is important, not only to 
begin but to carry on and hold out; that is what we Rus¬ 
sians are not good at. Only by long training, through a 
proletarian disciplined struggle against all wavering and 



vacillation, only through such endurance can the Russian 
working masses be brought to rid themselves of this bad 

We have given Kolchak, Denikin and Yudenich a sound 
thrashing, but we have not yet finished the job. Wrangel 
is still in the Crimea. We said to ourselves: “Well, now 
we are the stronger”—and that has led to instance after 
instance of slackness and slovenliness. Meanwhile, Wrangel 
is receiving aid from Great Britain, This is done through 
traders, but it cannot be proved. Only the other day he 
landed troops and captured Melitopol. True, according to 
the latest reports we have re-captured it; but in this case, 
too, we had let it slip from our hands most shamefully 
just because we were strong. Just because Yudenich, Kol¬ 
chak and Denikin have been smashed, the Russian begins 
to reveal his nature and take things easy, with the result 
that we let things slide. His slovenliness leads to tens of 
thousands of his comrades losing their lives. Here is a 
fundamental Russian trait: when not a single job has been 
carried through to the end he is apt to let things slide 
unless he is prodded. This trait must be ruthlessly com 
bated, for it leads to tens of thousands of the finest Red 
Army men and peasants losing their lives, and the 
continued sufferings of famine. And so, though we are 
stronger than the Poles, our slogan in the war that has 
been imposed on us must be-—an end to all slackness! Since 
war has proved inevitable, everything must be devoted to 
the war effort; the least slackness or lack of drive must 
be punished by wartime laws. War means war, and let 
nobody in the rear or in any peaceful occupation dare 
shirk his duty! 

The slogan must be—everything for the war effort! 
Otherwise we shall be unable to cope with the Polish nobles 
and bourgeoisie. To finish with this war, we must teach a 
conclusive lesson to the last of the neighbouring powers 
that still dares to play at this game. We must give them 
so severe a iesson that they will warn their children, their 
grandchildren and their great-grandchildren to refrain from 
such things. (Applause.) And so, comrades, at every meet¬ 
ing, assembly and business conference, in all groups at all 
party institutions and on all executive bodies, it is the 



prime duty of those who are working in the countryside, 
of propagandists and agitators, and all the comrades en¬ 
gaged in any field of peaceful labour to give top priority 
and full effect to the slogan: “Everything for the war 

Until complete victory is won in this war, we must 
guarantee ourselves against the errors and follies we have 
been committing for years. I do not know how many mis¬ 
takes a Russian has to make before he learns his lesson. 
We once believed the war over before we had dealt the 
enemy his death blow, leaving Wrangel in the Crimea. I 
repeat the slogan, “Everything for the war effort!” must 
be the chief item on the agenda at every conference, at 
every meeting, on every executive body. 

We must ask ourselves: have we bent every effort, have 
we made every sacrifice to bring the war to an end? This 
is a question of saving the lives of tens of thousands of 
our finest comrades, who are perishing at the front, in the 
foremost ranks. It is a matter of saving ourselves from the 
famine which is imminent just because we are not fight¬ 
ing the war to a finish, when we can and must do that, 
and quickly, too. For this, discipline and subordination 
must be enforced at all costs and with the utmost severity. 
The least condonement, the least slackness displayed here, 
in the rear, in any peaceful pursuit, will mean the loss of 
thousands of lives, and starvation in the rear. 

Published in 1920 Collected Works, Vol. 31, 

in the pamphlet Speech by V. 1. Lenin pp. 168-75 

at the Second All-Russia Conference 
of Organisers Responsible for 
Rural Work 


JULY 19-AUGUST 7, 1920 



JULY 19 

Imperialism’s economic relations constitute the core of 
the entire international situation as it now exists. 
Throughout the twentieth century, this new, highest and 
final stage of capitalism has fully taken shape. Of course, 
you all know that the enormous dimensions that capital has 
reached are the most characteristic and essential feature 
of imperialism. The place of free competition has been 
taken by huge monopolies. An insignificant number of 
capitalists have, in some cases, been able to concentrate in 
their hands entire branches of industry; these have passed 
into the hands of combines, cartels, syndicates and trusts, 
not infrequently of an international nature. Thus, entire 
branches of industry, not only in single countries, but all 
over the world, have been taken over by monopolists in 
the field of finance, property rights, and partly of pro¬ 
duction. This has formed the basis for the unprecedented 
domination exercised by an insignificant number of very 
big banks, financial tycoons, financial magnates who have, 
in fact, transformed even the freest republics into financial 
monarchies. Before the war this was publicly recognised 
by such far from revolutionary writers as, for example, 
Lysis in France. 

This domination by a handful of capitalists achieved 
full development when the whole world had been parti 


tioned, not only in the sense that the various sources of 
raw materials and means of production had been seized 
by the biggest capitalists, but also in the sense that the 
preliminary partition of the colonies had been completed. 
Some forty years ago, the population of the colonies stood 
at somewhat over 250,000,000, who were subordinated to 
six capitalist powers. Before the war of 1914, the popula¬ 
tion of the colonies was estimated at about 600,000,000, 
and if we add countries like Persia, Turkey, and China, 
which were already semi-colonies, we shall get, in round 
figures, a population of a thousand million people op¬ 
pressed through colonial dependence by the richest, most 
civilised and freest countries. And you know that, apart 
from direct political and juridical dependence, colonial 
dependence presumes a number of relations of financial 
and economic dependence, a number of wars, which were 
not regarded as wars because very often they amounted 
to sheer massacres, when European and American impe¬ 
rialist troops, armed with the most up-to-date weapons of 
destruction, slaughtered the unarmed and defenceless in¬ 
habitants of colonial countries. 

The first imperialist war of 1914-18 was the inevitable 
outcome of this partition of the whole world, of this 
domination by the capitalist monopolies, of this great power 
wielded by an insignificant number of very big banks— 
two, three, four or five in each country. This war was waged 
for the repartitioning of the whole world. It was waged 
in order to decide which of the small groups of the biggest 
states—the British or the German—was to obtain the op¬ 
portunity and the right to rob, strangle and exploit the 
whole world. You know that the war settled this question 
in favour of the British group. And, as a result of this 
war, all capitalist contradictions have become immeasur¬ 
ably more acute. At a single stroke the war relegated about 
250,000,000 of the world’s inhabitants to what is equiva¬ 
lent to colonial status, viz., Russia, whose population can 
be taken at about 130,000,000, and Austria-Hungary, Ger¬ 
many and Bulgaria, with a total population of not less 
than 120,000,000. That means 250,000,000 people living in 
countries, of which some, like Germany, are among the 
most advanced, most enlightened, most cultured, and on a 



level with modern technical progress. By means of the 
Treaty of Versailles, the war imposed such terms upon 
these countries that advanced peoples have been reduced 
to a state of colonial dependence, poverty, starvation, ruin, 
and loss of rights: this treaty binds them for many genera¬ 
tions, placing them in conditions that no civilised nation 
has ever lived in. The following is the post-war picture of 
the world: at least 1,250 million people are at once brought 
under the colonial yoke, exploited by brutal capitalism, 
which once boasted of its love for peace, and had some 
right to do so some fifty years ago, when the world was 
not yet partitioned, the monopolies did not as yet rule, and 
capitalism could still develop in a relatively peaceful way, 
without tremendous military conflicts. 

Today, after this “peaceful” period, we see a monstrous 
intensification of oppression, the reversion to a colonial 
and military oppression that is far worse than before. The 
Treaty of Versailles has placed Germany and the other 
defeated countries in a position that makes their economic 
existence physically impossible, deprives them of all rights, 
and humiliates them. 

How many nations are the beneficiaries? To answer 
this question we must recall that the population of the 
United States—the only full beneficiary from the war, a 
country which, from a heavy debtor, has become a gener¬ 
al creditor—is no more than 100,000,000. The population 
of Japan—which gained a great deal by keeping out of 
the European-American conflict and by seizing the enor¬ 
mous Asian continent—is 50,000,000. The population of 
Britain, which next to the above-mentioned countries 
gained most, is about 50,000,000. If we add the neutral 
countries with their very small populations, countries 
which were enriched by the war, we shall get, in round 
figures, some 250,000,000 people. 

Thus you get the broad outlines of the picture of the 
world as it appeared after the imperialist war. In the Op¬ 
pressed colonies—countries which are being dismembered, 
such as Persia, Turkey and China, and in countries that 
were defeated and have been relegated to the position of 
colonies—there are 1,250 million inhabitants. Not more 
than 250,000,000 inhabit countries that have retained their 



old positions, but have become economically dependent 
upon America, and all of which, during the war, were 
militarily dependent, once the war involved the whole world 
and did not permit a single state to remain really neutral. 
And, finally, we have not more than 250,000,000 inhabit¬ 
ants in countries whose top stratum, the capitalists alone, 
benefited from the partition of the world. We thus get a 
total of about 1,750 million comprising the entire popula¬ 
tion of the world. I would like to remind you of this picture 
of the world, for all the basic contradictions of capitalism, 
of imperialism, which are leading up to revolution, all the 
basic contradictions in the working-class movement that 
have led up to the furious struggle against the Second 
International, facts our chairman has referred to, are 
all connected with this partitioning of the world’s 

Of course, these figures give the economic picture of the 
world only approximately, in broad outline. And, com 
rades, it is natural that, with the population of the world 
divided in this way, exploitation by finance capital, the 
capitalist monopolies, has increased many times over. 

Not only have the colonial and the defeated countries 
been reduced to a state of dependence; within each victor 
state the contradictions have grown more acute; all the 
capitalist contradictions have become aggravated. I shall 
illustrate this briefly with a few examples. 

Let us take the national debts. We know that the debts 
of the principal European states increased no less than 
sevenfold in the period between 1914 and 1920. I shall 
quote another economic source, one of particular signifi¬ 
cance—Keynes, the British diplomat and author of The 
Economic Consequences of the Peace, who, on instruc¬ 
tions from his government, took part in the Versailles 
peace negotiations, observed them on the spot from the 
purely bourgeois point of view, studied the subject in de¬ 
tail, step by step, and took part in the conferences as an 
economist. He has arrived at conclusions which are more 
weighty, more striking and more instructive than any a 
Communist revolutionary could draw, because they are the 
conclusions of a well-known bourgeois and implacable 
enemy of Bolshevism, which he, like the British philistine 



he is, imagines as something monstrous, ferocious, and 
bestial. Keynes has reached the conclusion that after the 
Peace of Versailles, Europe and the whole world are head¬ 
ing for bankruptcy. He has resigned, and thrown his book 
in the government’s face with the words: “What you are 
doing is madness.” I shall quote his figures, which can be 
summed up as follows. 

What are the debtor-creditor relations that have devel¬ 
oped between the principal powers? I shall convert pounds 
sterling into gold rubles, at a rate of ten gold rubles to one 
pound. Here is what we get: the United States has assets 
amounting to 19,000 million, its liabilities are nil. Before 
the war it was in Britain’s debt. In his report on April 
14, 1920, to the last congress of the Communist Party of 
Germany, Comrade Levi very correctly pointed out that 
there are now only two powers in the world that can act 
independently, viz., Britain and America. America alone is 
absolutely independent financially. Before the war she was 
a debtor; she is now a creditor only. All the other powers 
in the world are debtors. Britain has been reduced to a 
position in which her assets total 17,000 million, and her 
liabilities 8,000 million. She is already half-way to becom¬ 
ing a debtor nation. Moreover, her assets include about 
6,000 million owed to her by Russia. Included in the debt 
are military supplies received by Russia during the war. 
When Krasin, as representative of the Russian Soviet 
Government, recently had occasion to discuss with Lloyd 
George the subject of debt agreements, he made it plain 
to the scientists and politicians, to the British Govern¬ 
ment’s leaders, that they were labouring under a strange 
delusion if they were counting on getting these debts re¬ 
paid. The British diplomat Keynes has already laid this 
delusion bare. 

Of course, it is not only or even not at all a question 
of the Russian revolutionary government having no wish 
to pay the debts. No government would pay, because these 
debts are usurious interest on a sum that has been paid 
twenty times over, and the selfsame bourgeois Keynes, 
who does not in the least sympathise with the Russian 
revolutionary movement, says: “It is clear that these 
debts cannot be taken into account.” 



In regard to France, Keynes quotes the following figures: 
her assets amount to 3,500 million, and her liabilities 
to 10,500 million! And this is a country which the French 
themselves called the world’s money-lender, because her 
“savings” were enormous; the proceeds of colonial and 
financial pillage—a gigantic capital—enabled her to grant 
thousands upon thousands of millions in loans, particu¬ 
larly to Russia. These loans brought in an enormous 
revenue. Notwithstanding this and notwithstanding victory, 
France has been reduced to debtor status. 

A bourgeois American source, quoted by Comrade Braun, 
a Communist, in his book Who Must Pay the War Debts ? 
(Leipzig, 1920), estimates the ratio of debts to national 
wealth as follows: in the victor countries, Britain and 
France, the ratio of debts to aggregate national wealth 
is over 50 per cent; in Italy the percentage is between 60 
and 70, and in Russia 90. As you know, however, these 
debts do not disturb us, because we followed Keynes’s 
excellent advice just a little before his book appeared—we 
annulled all our debts. (Stormy applause.) 

In this, however, Keynes reveals the usual crankiness 
of the philistine: while advising that all debts should be 
annulled, he goes on to say that, of course, France only 
stands to gain by it, that, of course, Britain will not lose 
very much, as nothing can be got out of Russia in any 
case; America will lose a fair amount, but Keynes counts 
on American “generosity”! On this point our views differ 
from those of Keynes and other petty-bourgeois pacifists. 
We think that to get the debts annulled they will have to 
wait for something else to happen, and will have to try 
working in a direction other than counting on the “gener¬ 
osity” of the capitalists. 

These few figures go to show that the imperialist war 
has created an impossible situation for the victor powers 
as well. This is further shown by the enormous disparity 
between wages and price rises. On March 8 of this year, 
the Supreme Economic Council, an institution charged 
with protecting the bourgeois system throughout the world 
from the mounting revolution, adopted a resolution which 
ended with an appeal for order, industry and thrift, provid¬ 
ed, of course, the workers remain the slaves of capital. 



This Supreme Economic Council, organ of the Entente and 
of the capitalists of the whole world, presented the follow¬ 
ing summary. 

In the United States of America food prices have risen, 
on the average, by 120 per cent, whereas wages have in¬ 
creased only by 100 per cent. In Britain, food prices have 
gone up by 170 per cent, and wages 130 per cent; in France, 
food prices—300 per cent, and wages 200 per cent; in 
Japan—food prices 130 per cent, and wages 60 per cent 
(I have analysed Comrade Braun’s figures in his pamphlet 
and those of the Supreme Economic Council as published 
in The Times of March 10, 1920). 

In such circumstances, the workers’ mounting resent¬ 
ment, the growth of a revolutionary temper and ideas, and 
the increase in spontaneous mass strikes are obviously 
inevitable, since the position of the workers is becoming 
intolerable. The workers’ own experience is convincing 
them that the capitalists have become prodigiously enriched 
by the war and are placing the burden of war costs and 
debts upon the workers’ shoulders. We recently learnt by 
cable that America wants to deport another 500 Commu¬ 
nists to Russia so as to get rid of “dangerous agitators”. 

Even if America deports to our country, not 500 but 
500,000 Russian, American, Japanese and French “agita¬ 
tors”, that will make no difference, because there will still 
be the disparity between prices and wages, which they can 
do nothing about. The reason why they can do nothing 
about it is because private property is most strictly safe¬ 
guarded, is “sacred” there. That should not be forgot¬ 
ten, because it is only in Russia that the exploiters’ private 
property has been abolished. The capitalists can do noth¬ 
ing about the gap between prices and wages, and the work¬ 
ers cannot live on their previous wages. The old methods 
are useless against this calamity. Nothing can be achieved 
by isolated strikes, the parliamentary struggle, or the vote, 
because “private property is sacred”, and the capitalists 
have accumulated such debts that the whole world is in 
bondage to a handful of men. Meanwhile the workers’ 
living conditions are becoming more and more unbearable. 
There is no other way out but to abolish the exploiters’ 
“private property”. 



In his pamphlet Britain and the World Revolution, 
valuable extracts from which were published by our Bulletin 
of the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs of Feb¬ 
ruary 1920, Comrade Lapinsky points out that in Britain 
coal export prices have doubled as against those anticipat¬ 
ed by official industrial circles. 

In Lancashire things have gone so far that shares are 
at a premium of 400 per cent. Bank profits are at least 40- 
50 per cent. It should, moreover, be noted that, in deter¬ 
mining bank profits, all bank officials are able to conceal the 
lion’s share of profits by calling them, not profits but bo¬ 
nuses, commissions, etc. So here, too, indisputable economic 
facts prove that the wealth of a tiny handful of people has 
grown prodigiously and that their luxury beggars descrip¬ 
tion, while the poverty of the working class is steadily 
growing. We must particularly note the further circum¬ 
stance brought out very clearly by Comrade Levi in the 
report I have just referred to, namely, the change in the 
value of money. Money has everywhere depreciated as a 
result of the debts, the issue of paper currency, etc. The 
same bourgeois source I have already mentioned, namely, 
the statement of the Supreme Economic Council of 
March 8, 1920, has calculated that in Britain the deprecia¬ 
tion in the value of currency as against the dollar is 
approximately one-third, in France and Italy two-thirds, 
and in Germany as much as 96 per cent. 

This fact shows that the “mechanism” of the world 
capitalist economy is falling apart. The trade relations on 
which the acquisition of raw materials and the sale of 
commodities hinge under capitalism cannot go on; they 
cannot continue to be based on the subordination of a 
number of countries to a single country—the reason being 
the change in the value of money. No wealthy country can 
exist or trade unless it sells its goods and obtains raw 

Thus we have a situation in which America, a wealthy 
country that all countries are subordinate to, cannot buy 
or sell. And the selfsame Keynes who went through the 
entire gamut of the Versailles negotiations has been com¬ 
pelled to acknowledge this impossibility despite his unyield¬ 
ing determination to defend capitalism, and ail his hatred 



of Bolshevism. Incidentally, I do not think any communist 
manifesto, or one that is revolutionary in general, could 
compare in forcefulness with those pages in Keynes’s book 
which depict Wilson and “Wilsonism” in action. Wilson 
was the idol of philistines and pacifists like Keynes and 
a number of heroes of the Second International (and even 
of the “Two and-a-Half” International 97 ), who exalted the 
“Fourteen Points” 98 and even wrote “learned” books 
about the “roots” of Wilson’s policy; they hoped that Wil¬ 
son would save “social peace”, reconcile exploiters and 
exploited, and bring about social reforms. Keynes showed 
vividly how Wilson was made a fool of, and all these illu¬ 
sions were shattered at the first impact with the practical, 
mercantile and huckster policy of capital as personified by 
Clemenceau and Lloyd George. The masses of the workers 
now see more clearly than ever, from their own experience 
—and the learned pedants could see it just by Teading 
Keynes’s book—that the “roots” of Wilson’s policy lay in 
sanctimonious piffle, petty-bourgeois phrase-mongering, 
and an utter inability to understand the class struggle. 

In consequence of all this, two conditions, two funda¬ 
mental situations, have inevitably and naturally emerged. 
On the one hand, the impoverishment of the masses has 
grown incredibly, primarily among 1,250 million people, 
i.e., 70 per cent of the world’s population. These are the 
colonial and dependent countries whose inhabitants pos¬ 
sess no legal rights, countries “mandated” to the brigands 
of finance. Besides, the enslavement of the defeated coun¬ 
tries has been sanctioned by the Treaty of Versailles and 
by existing secret treaties regarding Russia, whose valid¬ 
ity, it is true, is sometimes about as real as that of the 
scraps of paper stating that we owe so many thousands of 
millions. For the first time in world history, we see rob¬ 
bery, slavery, dependence, poverty and starvation imposed 
upon 1,250 million people by a legal act. 

On the other hand, the workers in each of the creditor 
countries have found themselves in conditions that are 
intolerable. The war has led to an unprecedented aggra¬ 
vation of all capitalist contradictions, this being the origin 
of the intense revolutionary ferment that is ever growing. 
During the war people were put under military discipline, 



hurled into the ranks of death, or threatened with imme¬ 
diate wartime punishment. Because of the war conditions 
people could not see the economic realities. Writers, poets, 
the clergy, the whole press were engaged in nothing but 
glorifying the war. Now that the war has ended, the expo¬ 
sures have begun: German imperialism with its Peace of 
Brest-Litovsk has been laid bare; the Treaty of Versailles, 
which was to have been a victory for imperialism but 
proved its defeat, has been exposed. Incidentally, the exam¬ 
ple of Keynes shows that in Europe and America tens and 
hundreds of thousands of petty-bourgeois, intellectuals, 
and simply more or less literate and educated people, have 
had to follow the road taken by Keynes, who resigned and 
threw in the face of his government a book exposing it. 
Keynes has shown what is taking place and will take place 
in the minds of thousands and hundreds of thousands of 
people when they realise that all the speeches about a “war 
for liberty”, etc., were sheer deception, and that as a re¬ 
sult only a handful of people were enriched, while the 
others were ruined and reduced to slavery. Is it not a fact 
that the bourgeois Keynes declares that, to survive and 
save the British economy, the British must secure the re¬ 
sumption of free commercial intercourse between Ger¬ 
many and Russia? How can this be achieved? By cancell¬ 
ing all debts, as Keynes proposes. This is an idea that has 
been arrived at not only by Keynes, the learned econo¬ 
mist; millions of people are or will be getting the same idea. 
And millions of people hear bourgeois economists declare 
that there is no way out except annulling the debts; there¬ 
fore “damn the Bolsheviks” (who have annulled the 
debts), and let us appeal to America’s “generosity”! I 
think that, on behalf of the Congress of the Communist 
International, we should send a message of thanks to these 
economists, who have been agitating for Bolshevism. 

If, on the one hand, the economic position of the masses 
has become intolerable, and, on the other hand, the disin¬ 
tegration described by Keynes has set in and is growing 
among the negligible minority of all-powerful victor coun¬ 
tries, then we are in the presence of the maturing of the 
two conditions for the world revolution. 



We now have before us a somewhat more complete 
picture of the whole world. We know what dependence 
upon a handful of rich men means to 1,250 million people 
who have been placed in intolerable conditions of exist¬ 
ence. On the other hand, when the peoples were presented 
with the League of Nations Covenant, declaring that the 
League had put an end to war and would henceforth not 
permit anyone to break the peace, and when this Cove¬ 
nant, the last hope of working people all over the world, 
came into force, it proved to be a victory of the first order 
for us. Before it came into force, people used to say that 
it was impossible not to impose special conditions on a 
country like Germany, but when the Covenant was drawn 
up, everything would come out all right. Yet, when the 
Covenant was published, the bitterest opponents of Bol¬ 
shevism were obliged to repudiate it! When the Covenant 
came into operation, it appeared that a small group of the 
richest countries, the “Big Four”—in the persons of Cle- 
menceau, Lloyd George, Orlando and Wilson—had been 
put on the job of creating the new relations! When the 
machinery of the Covenant was put into operation, this led 
to a complete breakdown. 

We saw this in the case of the wars against Russia. 
Weak, ruined and crushed, Russia, a most backward coun¬ 
try, fought against all the nations, against a league of the 
rich and powerful states that dominate the world, and 
emerged victorious. We could not put up a force that was 
anything like the equal of theirs, and yet we proved the 
victors. Why was that? Because there was not a jot of 
unity among them, because each power worked against 
the other. France wanted Russia to pay her debts and be¬ 
come a formidable force against Germany; Britain wanted 
to partition Russia, and attempted to seize the Baku oil¬ 
fields and conclude a treaty with the border states of Rus¬ 
sia. Among the official British documents there is a Paper 
which scrupulously enumerates all the states (fourteen in 
all) which some six months ago, in December 1919, pledged 
themselves to take Moscow and Petrograd. Britain based 
her policy on these states, to whom she granted loans run¬ 
ning into millions. All these calculations have now misfired, 
and all the loans are unrecoverable. 



Such is the situation created by the League of Nations. 
Every day of this Covenant’s existence provides the best 
propaganda for Bolshevism, since the most powerful ad¬ 
herents of the capitalist “order” are revealing that, on 
every question, they put spokes in one another’s wheels. 
Furious wrangling over the partitioning of Turkey, Persia, 
Mesopotamia and China is going on between Japan, Bri¬ 
tain, America and France. The bourgeois press in these 
countries is full of the bitterest attacks and the angriest 
statements against their “colleagues” for trying to snatch 
the booty from under their noses. We see complete discord 
at the top, among this handful, this very small number of 
extremely rich countries. There are 1,250 million people 
who find it impossible to live in the conditions of servi¬ 
tude which “advanced” and civilised capitalism wishes to 
impose on them: after all, these represent 70 per cent of 
the world’s population. This handful of the richest states— 
Britain, America and Japan (though Japan was able to 
plunder the Eastern, the Asian countries, she cannot con¬ 
stitute an independent financial and military force without 
support from another country)—these two or three coun¬ 
tries are unable to organise economic relations, and are 
directing their policies toward disrupting policies of their 
colleagues and partners in the League of Nations. Hence 
the world crisis; it is these economic roots of the crisis 
that provide the chief reason of the brilliant successes the 
Communist International is achieving. 



JULY 2699 

Comrades, I shall confine myself to a brief introduction, 
after which Comrade Maring, who has been secretary to 
our commission, will give you a detailed account of the 
changes we have made in the theses. He will be followed 
by Comrade Roy, who has formulated the supplementary 
theses. Our commission have unanimously adopted both 
the preliminary theses, as amended, and the supplementary 
theses. We have thus reached complete unanimity on all 
major issues. I shall now make a few brief remarks. 

First, what is the cardinal idea underlying our theses? 
It is the distinction between oppressed and oppressor na¬ 
tions. Unlike the Second International and bourgeois de¬ 
mocracy, we emphasise this distinction. In this age of im¬ 
perialism, it is particularly important for the proletariat 
and the Communist International to establish the concrete 
economic facts and to proceed from concrete realities, not 
from abstract postulates, in all colonial and national 

The characteristic feature of imperialism consists in the 
whole world, as we now see, being divided into a large 
number of oppressed nations and an insignificant number 
of oppressor nations, the latter possessing colossal wealth 
and powerful armed forces. The vast majority of the 
world’s population, over a thousand million, perhaps 
even 1,250 million people, if we take the total population 
of the world as 1,750 million, in other words, about 70 per 


cent of the world’s population, belong to the oppressed na¬ 
tions, which are either in a state of direct colonial depend¬ 
ence or are semi-colonies, as, for example, Persia, Tur¬ 
key and China, or else, conquered by some big imperial¬ 
ist power, have become greatly dependent on that power 
by virtue of peace treaties. This idea of distinction, of 
dividing the nations into oppressor and oppressed, runs 
through the theses, not only the first theses published ear¬ 
lier over my signature, but also those submitted by Com¬ 
rade Roy. The latter were framed chiefly from the stand¬ 
point of the situation in India and other big Asian coun¬ 
tries oppressed by Britain. Herein lies their great impor¬ 
tance to us. 

The second basic idea in our theses is that, in the pres¬ 
ent world situation following the imperialist war, rela¬ 
tions between peoples and the world political system as a 
whole are determined by the struggle waged by a small 
group of imperialist nations against the Soviet movement 
and the Soviet states headed by Soviet Russia. Unless we 
bear that in mind, we shall not be able to pose a single 
national or colonial problem correctly, even if it concerns 
a most outlying part of the world. The Communist par¬ 
ties, in civilised and backward countries alike, can pose 
and solve political problems correctly only if they make 
this postulate their starting-point. 

Third, I should like especially to emphasise the ques¬ 
tion of the bourgeois-democratic movement in backward 
countries. This is a question that has given rise to certain 
differences. We have discussed whether it would be right 
or wrong, in principle and in theory, to state that the Com¬ 
munist International and the Communist parties must sup¬ 
port the bourgeois-democratic movement in backward 
countries. As a result of our discussion, we have arrived 
at the unanimous decision to speak of the national-revo¬ 
lutionary movement rather than of the “bourgeois-demo¬ 
cratic” movement. It is beyond doubt that any national 
movement can only be a bourgeois-democratic movement, 
since the overwhelming mass of the population in the back¬ 
ward countries consist of peasants who represent bour¬ 
geois-capitalist relationships. It would be utopian to believe 
that proletarian parties in these backward countries, if 



indeed they can emerge in them, can pursue communist 
tactics and a communist policy, without establishing 
definite relations with the peasant movement and without 
giving it effective support. However, the objections have 
been raised that, if we speak of the bourgeois-democratic 
movement, we shall be obliterating all distinctions between 
the reformist and the revolutionary movement. Yet that 
distinction has been very clearly revealed of late in the 
backward and colonial countries, since the imperialist 
bourgeoisie is doing everything in its power to implant a 
reformist movement among the oppressed nations too. 
There has been a certain rapprochement between the 
bourgeoisie of the exploiting countries and that of the 
colonies, so that very often—perhaps even in most cases— 
the bourgeoisie of the oppressed countries, while it does 
support the national movement, is in full accord with the 
imperialist bourgeoisie, i.e., joins forces with it against all 
revolutionary movements and revolutionary classes. This 
was irrefutably proved in the commission, and we decided 
that the only correct attitude was to take this distinction 
into account and, in nearly all cases, substitute the term 
“national-revolutionary” for the term “bourgeois-democrat¬ 
ic”. The significance of this change is that we, a3 Com¬ 
munists, should and will support bourgeois-liberation 
movements in the colonies only when they are genuinely 
revolutionary, and when their exponents do not hinder our 
work of educating and organising in a revolutionary spirit 
the peasantry and the masses of the exploited. If these 
conditions do not exist, the Communists in these countries 
must combat the reformist bourgeoisie, to whom the 
heroes of the Second International also belong. Reformist 
parties already exist in the colonial countries, and in some 
cases their spokesmen call themselves Social-Democrats 
and socialists. The distinction I have referred to has been 
made in all the theses with the result, I think, that our view 
is now formulated much more precisely. 

Next, I would like to make a remark on the subject of 
peasants’ Soviets. The Russian Communists’ practical activ¬ 
ities in the former tsarist colonies, in such backward 
countries as Turkestan, etc., have confronted us with the 
question of how to apply the communist tactics and policy 


in pre-capitalist conditions. The preponderance of pre-cap¬ 
italist relationships is still the main determining feature 
in these countries, so that there can be no question of a 
purely proletarian movement in them. There is practically 
no industrial proletariat in these countries. Nevertheless, 
we have assumed, we must assume, the role of leader even 
there. Experience has shown us that tremendous difficul¬ 
ties have to be surmounted in these countries. However, 
the practical results of our work have also shown that 
despite these difficulties we are in a position to inspire in 
the masses an urge for independent political thinking and 
independent political action, even where a proletariat is 
practically non-existent. This work has been more difficult 
for us than it will be for comrades in the West-European 
countries, because in Russia the proletariat is engrossed 
in the work of state administration. It will readily be un¬ 
derstood that peasants living in conditions of semi-feudal 
dependence can easily assimilate and give effect to the 
idea of Soviet organisation. It is also clear that the oppressed 
masses, those who are exploited, not only by merchant 
capital but also by the feudalists, and by a state based on 
feudalism, can apply this weapon, this type of organisa¬ 
tion, in their conditions too. The idea of Soviet organisa¬ 
tion is a simple one, and is applicable, not only to prole¬ 
tarian but also to peasant feudal and semi-feudal relations. 
Our experience in this respect is not as yet very consider¬ 
able. However, the debate in the commission, in which 
several representatives from colonial countries participat¬ 
ed, demonstrated convincingly that the Communist Inter¬ 
national’s theses should point out that peasants’ Soviets, 
Soviets of the exploited, are a weapon which can be em¬ 
ployed, not only in capitalist countries but also in countries 
with pre-capitalist relations, and that it is the absolute 
duty of Communist parties and of elements prepared to 
form Communist parties, everywhere to conduct propa¬ 
ganda in favour of peasants’ Soviets or of working peo¬ 
ple’s Soviets, this to include backward and colonial coun¬ 
tries. Wherever conditions permit, they should at once 
make attempts to set up Soviets of the working people. 

This opens up a very interesting and very important 
field for our practical work. So far our joint experience 



in this respect has not been extensive, but more and more 
data will gradually accumulate. It is unquestionable that 
the proletariat of the advanced countries can and should 
give help to the working masses of the backward countries, 
and that the backward countries can emerge from their 
present stage of development when the victorious proletar¬ 
iat of the Soviet Republics extends a helping hand to these 
masses and is in a position to give them support. 

There was quite a lively debate on this question in the 
commission, not only in connection with the theses I 
signed, but still more in connection with Comrade Roy’s 
theses, which he will defend here, and certain amendments 
to which were unanimously adopted. 

The question was posed as follows: are we to consider 
as correct the assertion that the capitalist stage of eco¬ 
nomic development is inevitable for backward nations now- 
on the road to emancipation and among whom a certain 
advance towards progress is to be seen since the war? We 
replied in the negative. If the victorious revolutionary pro¬ 
letariat conducts systematic propaganda among them, and 
the Soviet governments come to their aid with all the 
means at their disposal—in that event it will be mistaken 
to assume that the backward peoples must inevitably go 
through the capitalist stage of development. Not only should 
we create independent contingents of fighters and party 
organisations in the colonies and the backward countries, 
not only at once launch propaganda for the organisation 
of peasants’ Soviets and strive to adapt them to the pre¬ 
capitalist conditions, but the' Communist International 
should advance the proposition, with the appropriate theo¬ 
retical grounding, that with the aid of the proletariat of 
the advanced countries, backward countries can go over 
to the Soviet system and, through certain stages of devel¬ 
opment, to communism, without having to pass through 
the capitalist stage. 

The necessary means for this cannot be indicated in 
advance. These will be prompted by practical, experience. 
It has, however, been definitely established that the idea 
of the Soviets is understood by the mass of the working 
people in even the most remote nations, that the Soviets 
should be adapted to the conditions of a pre-capitalist so- 



cial system, and that the Communist parties should imme¬ 
diately begin work in this direction in all parts of the 

I would also like to emphasise the importance of revo¬ 
lutionary work by the Communist parties, not only in their 
own, but also in the colonial countries, and particularly 
among the troops employed by the exploiting nations to 
keep the colonial peoples in subjection. 

Comrade Quelch of the- British Socialist Party 100 spoke 
of this in our commission. He said that the rank-and-file 
British worker would consider it treasonable to help the 
enslaved nations in their uprisings against British rule. 
True, the jingoist and chauvinist-minded labour aristocrats 
of Britain and America present a very great danger to 
socialism, and are a bulwark of the Second International. 
Here we are confronted with the greatest treachery on the 
part of leaders and workers belonging to this bourgeois 
International. The colonial question has been discussed 
in the Second International as well. The Basle Mani¬ 
festo 101 is quite clear on this point, too. The parties of 
the Second International have pledged themselves to rev¬ 
olutionary action, but they have given no sign of genuine 
revolutionary work or of assistance to the exploited and 
dependent nations in their revolt against the oppressor na¬ 
tions. This, I think, applies also to most of the parties that 
have withdrawn from the Second International and wish 
to join the Third International. We must proclaim this 
publicly for all to hear, and it is irrefutable. We shall see 
if any attempt is made to deny it. 

All these considerations have formed the basis of our 
resolutions, which undoubtedly are too lengthy but will 
nevertheless, I am sure, prove of use and will promote the 
development and organisation of genuine revolutionary 
work in connection with the national and the colonial ques¬ 
tions. And that is our principal task. 

First published in full in 1921 
in the book The Second Congress 
of the Communist International. 

Verbatim Report. Published by the 
Communist International, Petrograd 

Collected Works, Vol. 31, 
pp. 215 26, 240-45 



hi ode 


To Comrade Chicherin 

July 22, 1920 

My proposal: 

1) Directives to be given to Kopp through the People’s 
Commissariat of Foreign Affairs in the spirit of Comrade 
Chicherin’s proposal (only trade negotiations). 

2) Gukovsky to be answered. 

3) Curzon to be replied to in two days (not earlier; why 
spoil them?), after asking Kamenev and the Consul once 
again: why haven’t we received the original in English? 

The reply to be extra polite on the following lines: 

if Britain (+ France +? + ?) wants a general, i.e., a 
real peace, we have long been for it. In that case remove 
Wrangel, since he is your man , kept by you, and then we 
begin negotiations at once. 

If Poland wants peace, we are for ; we’ve said it clearly 
and we repeat it, let her make an offer. 

If you interrupt trade negotiations, we are very sorry, 
but you expose yourselves as departing from the truth, 
because you began these negotiations during Poland’s war 
and promised an armistice. Calmly and precisely expose 
their contradictions. 

The draft reply to be approved by telephone through 
the members of the Political Bureau on Friday or 
Saturday, July 23 or 24. 




Comrade Chicherin, 

If you agree, inform Comrade Krestinsky (he agrees in 
principle), then draft the reply. 



Published for the first time Collected Works, Vol. 35, 

in the Fourth (Russian) Edition pp. 452-53 

of the Collected Works 


OF THE R.C.P.(B.). SEPTEMBER 22-25, 1920 

SEPTEMBER 22, 1920 
Newspaper Report 

The war against Poland, or, to be more precise, the 
July-August campaign, has radically changed the interna¬ 
tional political situation. 

The Poles’ attack against us was preceded by an episode 
typical of the international relations existing at the time. 
When, in January, we offered Poland peace terms that 
were most favourable to her and most unfavourable to us, 
the diplomatists of all lands interpreted the fact in their 
own way: since the Bolsheviks were making such tremen¬ 
dous concessions, that should be taken to mean that they 
were very weak. This was merely more confirmation of 
bourgeois diplomacy’s inability to understand the methods 
employed by our new diplomacy, that of direct and frank 
declarations. That was why our proposals evoked merely 
an outburst of savage chauvinism in Poland, France and 
other countries, and prompted Poland to attack us. At first 
the Poles captured Kiev, but our forces’ counter-attack 
then brought them right up to Warsaw. Then came a turn 
in the events, and we fell back for over a hundred versts. 

The undoubtedly difficult situation that resulted has 
not been a total loss to us. We have completely upset the 
diplomatists’ expectations to make use of our weakness 
and have proved that Poland cannot defeat us, whereas we 
have never been and are not far from victory over Poland. 
At present we still hold a hundred versts of captured 



territory. Finally, our advance on Warsaw has had such a 
powerful effect on Western Europe and on the entire world 
situation that it has profoundly changed the alignment of 
the struggling internal and external political forces. 

Our army’s close approach to Warsaw has incontestably 
shown that the centre of world imperialism’s entire sys¬ 
tem, which rests on the Treaty of Versailles, lies some¬ 
where very close to the Polish capital. Poland, the last 
anti-Bolshevik stronghold fully controlled by the Entente, 
is such an important element in that system that when the 
Red Army threatened that stronghold the entire structure 
was shaken. The Soviet Republic has become a major 
factor in world politics. 

The new situation which has arisen has, in the first 
place, revealed the tremendously significant fact that the 
bourgeoisie of the Entente-oppressed countries is in the 
main for us, and these countries contain seventy per cent 
of the world’s population. We have already seen that the 
small states, which have had such a bad time under 
Entente tutelage (Estonia, Georgia, etc.), and have been 
hanging their Bolsheviks, have made peace with us, against 
the will of the Entente. This has been manifesting itself 
with special force throughout the world. All Germany 
began to seethe when our forces approached Warsaw. In 
that country a situation arose very much like that which 
could be seen in Russia in 1905, when the Black Hundreds 
aroused and involved in political life large and most back¬ 
ward sections of the peasantry, which were opposed to the 
Bolsheviks one day, and on the next were demanding all 
the land from the landed proprietors. In Germany too we 
have seen a similar unnatural bloc between the Black 
Hundreds and the Bolsheviks. There has appeared a 
strange type of Black-Hundred revolutionary, like the 
backward rustic youth from East Prussia who, as I read 
in a German non-Bolshevik newspaper the other day. says 
that the Kaiser will have to return because there is no 
order, but one has to follow the Bolsheviks. 

Our presence at the walls of Warsaw has had, as 
another consequence, a powerful effect on the revolution¬ 
ary movement in Europe, particularly in Britain. Though 
we have noit been able to effect the industrial proletariat 



of Poland beyond the Vistula and in Warsaw (this being 
one of the main reasons for our defeat), we have succeeded 
in influencing the British proletariat and in raising the 
movement there to an unprecedented level, to an absolutely 
new stage in the revolution. When the British Government 
presented an ultimatum to us, it transpired that it would 
first have to consult the British workers. The latter, nine- 
tenths of whose leaders are out-and-out Mensheviks, 
replied to the ultimatum by forming a Council of Action. 104 

Alarmed by these developments, the British press raised 
a hullabaloo about what it called this “duality of govern¬ 
ment”. It had every reason to say so. Britain found herself 
at the same stage of political relationships as Russia after 
February 1917, when the Soviets were obliged to scrutinise 
every step taken by the bourgeois government. This Coun¬ 
cil of Action unites all workers, irrespective of party, just 
like our All-Russia Central Executive Committee of the 
period when Gotz, Dan and others were running things, a 
kind of association which runs parallel with the govern¬ 
ment, and in which the Mensheviks are forced to act in 
a semi-Bolshevik way. Just as our Mensheviks finally got 
confounded and helped win over the masses to our side, 
the Mensheviks in the Council of Action have been forced 
by the inexorable coursfe of events to clear the way to the 
Bolshevist revolution for the worker masses of Britain. 
According to testimony by competent persons, the British 
Mensheviks already consider themselves a government, 
and are prepared to replace the bourgeois government in 
the near future. This will be the next step in the general 
process of the British proletarian revolution. 

These tremendous changes in the British working-class 
movements are exerting a powerful influence on the world 
working-class movement, and first and foremost on the 
working-class movement in France. 

Such are the results of our recent Polish campaign in 
its effect on world politics and the relations emerging in 
Western Europe. 

We are now faced with the question of war and peace 
with Poland. 105 We want to avoid a winter campaign that 
will be hard on us, and are again offering Poland a peace 
that is to her advantage and our disadvantage. However, 



the bourgeois diplomatists, following their old habit, may 
possibly interpret our frank statement as a sign of weak¬ 
ness. They have probably decided on a winter campaign. 
At this stage we have to ascertain the conditions in which 
we shall probably have to enter a new period of the war. 

In Western Europe our defeat has brought about cer¬ 
tain changes and rallied against us heterogeneous elements 
that are hostile to us. However, we have on more than one 
occasion seen even more powerful groups and currents 
hostile to us, which nevertheless could not achieve any¬ 

We have against us a bloc consisting of Poland, France 
and Wrangel. France pins her hopes on the latter. How¬ 
ever, this bloc suffers from the same old malady—the 
antagonism among its elements, and the fear felt by the 
Polish petty bourgeoisie with regard to Black-Hundred 
Russia and to Wrangel, its typical representative. Petty- 
bourgeois and patriotic Poland, the Polish Socialist Party, 
the Ludowa Party, 106 i.e., the well-to-do peasants—all of 
these want peace. Here is what spokesmen of these parties 
said to us in Minsk, “We know that it was not the Entente 
that saved Warsaw and Poland; it was unable to save us. 
It was the upsurge of patriotism that saved us.” Such 
lessons are not to be forgotten. The Poles realise very 
clearly that this war will ruin them financially. War has 
to be paid for, and France upholds the “sanctity of private 
property”. The representatives of the petty-bourgeois 
parties are aware that Poland was on the eve of a crisis 
even before the war, and that a war will mean further 
ruination; that is why they prefer peace. We want to 
make use of this by offering peace to Poland. 

Another factor of the utmost importance has appeared— 
the change in the social composition of the Polish army. 
We defeated Kolchak and Denikin only after the social 
composition of their armies had changed, when their basic 
cadres were watered down in the mass of mobilised 
peasants. The same kind of process is under way in the 
Polish army; the government has been obliged to call up 
workers and peasants of the older age groups, who have 
gone through the even harsher imperialist war. This army 
is now made up, not of youngsters, who can easily be 



“brainwashed”, but of older men, who will not let them¬ 
selves be talked over. Poland has passed the point which 
at first assured her total victory, and then total defeat. 

If we have to wage a winter campaign, we shall win 
despite exhaustion and fatigue. There can be no doubt on 
that score. Our economic situation also vouches for that 
outcome. It has improved considerably. Compared with 
last year, we have acquired a firm economic basis. In 

1917- 18 we gathered in 30 million poods of grain, in 

1918- 19—110 million poods, and in 1919-20—260 million; 
next year we expect to collect 400 million poods. These are 
far higher figures than those of the time when we 
struggled desperately to make both ends meet. No longer 
shall we look with such horror upon the multi-coloured 
banknotes that run into the thousands of millions, and 
today clearly show us that they are the wreckage, the 
tatters, of the old bourgeois vestments. 

We now have over a hundred million poods of oil. The 
Donets Basin now provides us with between twenty and 
thirty million poods of coal a month. The firewood situa¬ 
tion has greatly improved. As recently as last year we 
had only firewood—no oil or coal. 

All this gives us the right to say that, if we close our 
ranks and bend every effort, we shall win the victory. 

Pravda No. 216. 
September 29, 1920 

Collected Works , Vol. 31, 
pp. 275-79 



OCTOBER 15, 1920 

Comrades, in my report on the domestic and the external 
position of the Republic, which you wished to hear, I shall 
naturally have to devote most of my remarks to the war 
with Poland and its causes. It was this war which in the 
main determined the Republic’s domestic and external 
position during the past six months. Now that the prelimi¬ 
naries for a peace with Poland have just been signed, it is 
possible and necessary to take a general look at this war 
and its significance and try to give thought to the lessons 
we have all learnt from the war which has just ended, 
though nobody knows whether it has ended for good. I 
would therefore like first to remind you that it was on 
April 26 of this year that the Poles began their offensive. 
The Soviet Republic solemnly and formally proposed a 
peace to the Poles, the Polish landowners and the Polish 
bourgeoisie, on terms more favourable than those we have 
offered them now, despite the tremendous reverses our 
troops suffered at Warsaw, and the even greater reverses 
during the retreat from Warsaw. At the end of the April 
of this year, the Poles held a line between 50 and 
150 versts to the east of the one they now regard as the 
line of a preliminary peace; though at that time the line 
was manifestly an unfair one, we solemnly proposed peace 
to them on behalf of the All-Russia Central Executive 



Committee, since, as you all of course know and remem¬ 
ber, the Soviet government was mainly concerned at the 
time with ensuring the transition to peaceful construction. 
We had no reason for wishing to resort to arms in settling 
questions in dispute between ourselves and the Polish state. 
We were fully aware that the Polish state was, and still 
is, a state of the landowners and capitalists, and that it is 
fully dependent on the capitalists of the Entente countries, 
in particular on France. Though at the time Poland con¬ 
trolled, not only the whole of Lithuania but also Byelorus¬ 
sia, to say nothing of Eastern Galicia, we considered it our 
duty to do everything possible to avert a war, so as to give 
the working class and the peasantry of Russia at least a 
brief respite from the imperialist and civil wars, and at 
last enable them to get down in earnest to peaceful work. 
The events that ensued have happened all too frequently: 
our straightforward and public offer of peace on the line 
the Poles actually held was taken as a sign of weakness. 
Bourgeois diplomats of all countries are unaccustomed to 
such frank statements, and our readiness to accept a peace 
along a line so disadvantageous to us was taken and inter¬ 
preted as proof of our extreme weakness. The French 
capitalists succeeded in inciting the Polish capitalists to 
go to war. You will remember how, after a brief interval 
following upon the Polish offensive, we replied by dealing 
a counter-blow and almost reached Warsaw, after which 
our troops suffered a heavy defeat, and were thrown back. 

For over a month and right down to the present, our 
troops were retreating and suffered reverses, for they were 
utterly worn out, exhausted by their unparalleled advance 
from Polotsk to Warsaw. But, I repeat, despite this diffi¬ 
cult situation, peace was signed on terms less advanta¬ 
geous to Poland than the earlier ones. The earlier frontier 
lay 50 versts to the east, whereas it is now 50 versts to 
the west. Thus, though we signed a peace at a time favour¬ 
able only to the enemy, when our troops were on the 
retreat and Wrangel was building up his offensive, we 
signed a peace treaty on more favourable terms. This once 
again proves to you that when the Soviet Government 
proposes peace, its words and statements have to be treated 
seriously; otherwise what will happen is that we shall 


offer peace on terms less favourable to us, and get this 
peace on better terms. This is a lesson the Polish landown¬ 
ers and capitalists will not, of course, forget; they realise 
that they have gone too far; the peace terms now give 
them less territory than was offered previously. This is 
not the first lesson either. You all probably remember that, 
in the spring of 1919, a representative of the U.S. Govern¬ 
ment came to Moscow and proposed a preliminary peace 
with us and with all the whiteguard commanders at the 
time: Kolchak, Denikin and others, a peace which would 
have been extremely unfavourable to us. When he returned 
and reported on our peace terms, they were not considered 
advantageous, and the war went on. You are aware of the 
outcome of the war. This is not the first time that the 
Soviet state has proved that it is considerably stronger 
than it appears, and that our diplomatic Notes do not con¬ 
tain the boasts and threats that are usual with all bour¬ 
geois governments; consequently, rejecting an offer of 
peace from Soviet Russia means getting that peace some 
time later on terms that are far worse. Such things are not 
forgotten in international politics; after proving to the 
Polish landowners that they have now obtained a peace 
worse than the one which we originally offered, we shall 
teach the Polish people, the Polish peasants and workers, 
to weigh and compare the statements of their government 
and ours. 

Many of you may have read in the newspapers the Amer¬ 
ican Government’s Note, in which it declares: “we do not 
wish to have any dealings with the Soviet Government 
because it does not honour its obligations.” This does not 
surprise us, because it has been said for many years, the 
only outcome being that all their attempts to invade Soviet 
Russia have ended in disaster. The Polish newspapers, 
nearly all of which are in the pay of the landowners and 
the capitalists—there this is called freedom of the press— 
assert that the Soviet Government cannot be trusted, since 
it is a government of tyrants and frauds. All Polish news¬ 
papers say the same thing, but the Polish workers and 
peasants compare these words with the facts, and the facts 
show that we demonstrated our attachment to peace the 
very first time we made our peace offer; by concluding 



peace in October we proved this again. You will not find 
proof of this kind in the history of any bourgeois govern¬ 
ment, a fact that cannot but leave its impress on the minds 
of the Polish workers and peasants. The Soviet Govern¬ 
ment signed a peace when it was not to its advantage to 
do so. It is only in this way that we shall teach the gov¬ 
ernments that are controlled by the landowners and capi¬ 
talists to stop lying; only in this way shall we destroy the 
faith the workers and peasants have in them. We must 
give more thought to this than to anything else. Soviet 
power in Russia is surrounded by countless enemies, and 
yet these enemies are impotent. Think of the course and 
outcome of the Polish war. We now know that the French 
capitalists stood behind Poland, that they supplied Poland 
with money and munitions, and sent them French officers. 
We quite recently received information that African 
troops, namely French colonial troops, had appeared on 
the Polish front. This means that the war was waged by 
France with aid from Britain and America. At the same 
time, France recognised the lawful government of Russia 
in the person of Wrangel—so Wrangel too was backed by 
France, who provided him with the means to equip and 
maintain an army. Britain and America are also aiding 
Wrangel’s army. Consequently, three allies stood against 
us: France, supported by the world’s wealthy countries, 
Poland, and Wrangel—yet we have emerged from this war 
by concluding a favourable peace. In other words, we have 
won. Anyone who examines the map will see that we have 
won, that we have emerged from this war with more 
territory than we had before it started. But is the enemy 
weaker than we are? Is he weaker in the military sense? 
Has he got fewer men and munitions? No, he has more of 
everything. This enemy is stronger than we are, and yet 
he has been beaten. This is what we must give thought 
to in order to understand Soviet Russia’s position with 
respect to all other countries. 

When we Bolsheviks started the revolution, we said 
that it could and should be started, but at the same time 
we did not forget that it could be successfully ended and 
brought to an absolutely victorious conclusion, not confin¬ 
ing ourselves to Russia alone, but in alliance with a number 


of countries, after defeating international capital. Russian 
capital is linked up with international capital. When our 
enemies say to us: even if you were to win in Russia, your 
cause will nevertheless perish because the other capitalist 
states will crush you, we now have an answer—the highly 
important experience of the war with Poland, which shows 
how things have actually turned out. Indeed, why did it 
happen that, within six months and even less, if we take 
April as the beginning of the offensive, France, Poland and 
Wrangel, who were stronger than we are, were full of 
hatred of Bolshevism, and were determined to overthrow 
Soviet power, have been defeated, and the war has ended 
in our favour? How could it have happened that Soviet 
Russia, exhausted by the imperialist and civil wars, 
surrounded by enemies, and cut off from every source of 
supplies and equipment—that this Soviet Russia has proved 
the victor? We must reflect on this because, if we go 
deeper into this question, we begin to understand the 
mechanism, not only of the Russian but of the world 
revolution as well. We see confirmation of the fact that 
the Russian revolution is but a link in the chain of the 
world revolution, and that our cause is strong and invin¬ 
cible because the cause of revolution is developing through¬ 
out the world; economic conditions are evolving in a way 
that is making our enemies weaker and us stronger with 
every day. The Polish war has again proved that this is 
neither exaggeration, boasting nor over-enthusiasm. Three 
allies were fighting against us. One might have thought 
that uniting these three allies should present no difficulty 
but it appeared that, taught by the great experience of 
Yudenich, Kolchak and Denikin campaigns, they were 
unable to unite against us and squabbled at every step. 
In this connection, the history of the Polish war, which 
has only just ended, is particularly instructive. Our march 
on Warsaw—the Red Army’s march, in which weary, 
exhausted and poorly-clad soldiers covered over 600 versts, 
inflicting one defeat after another on the Polish troops, 
who were excellently trained, with hundreds of the best 
French officer instructors—showed us the kind of rela¬ 
tions that existed among our enemies. On July 12, when 
the Red Army troops were approaching the Polish fron- 



tier, we received a telegram from Britain’s Foreign Secre¬ 
tary, Curzon, on behalf of the League of Nations, that noto¬ 
rious League of Nations, an alliance which professes to 
unite Britain, France, America, Italy and Japan, countric 
with a tremendous military potential and possessing all 
the navies of the world, and against whom military 
resistance might seem perfectly impossible and absurd. Op 
behalf of this League of Nations, Curzon proposed that we 
stop the war and enter into negotiations with the Poles in 
London. According to this telegram, the boundary should 
pass near Grodno, Byelostok, Brest-Litovsk and along the 
River San in Eastern Galicia. To this proposal we replied 
that we recognised no League of Nations, since we had 
seen its insignificance and the disregard that even its 
members had for its decisions. The French Government 
considered our reply insolent, and one would have thought 
that this League of Nations would come out against us. 
But what happened? The League of Nations fell apart at 
our very first declaration, and Britain and France fell on 
each other. 

For several years Britain’s Secretary for War Churchill 
has been employing every means, both lawful and more 
often unlawful from the viewpoint of British law, to help 
the whiteguards against Russia, so as to supply them with 
military equipment. He hates Soviet Russia bitterly, yet 
immediately after our declaration Britain fell out with 
France, because France needs the forces of a whiteguard 
Russia to protect her against Germany, while Britain needs 
no such protection. Britain, a naval power, fears no such 
action because she has a most powerful navy. Thus, the 
League of Nations, which has sent such unprecedented 
threats to Russia, was itself helpless from the very outset. 
At every step the interests of the League’s member states 
are patently in conflict. France desires the defeat of 
Britain, and vice versa. When Comrade Kamenev was 
negotiating with the British Government in London and 
asked the British Prime Minister, “Let us suppose that 
you will really do what you say, what about France?”, the 
British Prime Minister had to reply that France would 
go her own way. He said that Britain could not take the 
same road as France. It became plain that the League of 


Nations was non-existent, that the alliance of the capitalist 
powers is sheer fraud, and that in actual fact it is an 
alliance of robbers, each trying to snatch something from 
the others. When at the conclusion of peace in Riga, we 
discovered what divided Poland, Britain, France and Wran- 
gel, and why they could not act in unison, we learnt that 
their interests differed: Britain wanted to have the small 
succession states—-Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania— 
in her sphere of influence and was not interested in the 
restoration of tsarist or whiteguard or even bourgeois 
Russia; she even stood to lose from it. That was why 
Britain was acting counter to France and could not unite 
with Poland and Wrangel. France’s concern was to fight 
to the last Polish soldier for her interests and the debts 
owed to her. She hoped we would pay her the 20 thou¬ 
sand-million debt incurred by the former tsar and 
recognised by the Kerensky government. Any sensible 
person will realise that the French capitalists will never 
see the colour of their money; the French capitalists 
realise that the French workers and peasants cannot be 
made to fight, while Polish soldiers are plentiful and can 
be driven into battle—so let them die that the French 
capitalists may get their millions back. However, the 
Polish workers too can see that the French, British and 
other officers behave in Poland just as if they were in a 
conquered country. That was why, during the Riga nego¬ 
tiations, we saw that the party of the Polish workers and 
peasants which is undoubtedly patriotic and undoubtedly 
hostile to Bolshevism, just like our Right-wing Mensheviks 
and the Socialist-Revolutionary Party, stood for peace and 
was opposed to the government of the Polish landowners 
and capitalists, who up to the last moment tried to wreck 
the peace treaty, and even now want to do so and will 
go on doing so for a long time to come. I shall have 
to speak on this point when I come to the question of 
whether the preliminary peace we have just concluded 
will last. 

The third ally, Wrangel, who fought for the return of 
the whole of Russia to the landowners and the capitalists, 
regards Poland as part of Russia. All the Russian tsars, 
landowners and capitalists were accustomed to regarding 



Poland as their prey; they never forgot that Poland had 
long ago been crushed by the Russian serf army led to war 
by the tsar. That meant that, had Wrangel been victorious, 
he would have used his victory in order to restore full 
power, both in Russia and in Poland, to the landowners. 
What happened, however, was that, when the three allies 
stood ready to attack us, they began by falling out among 
themselves. France’s aims are alien to both the Polish 
peasant and the Polish worker, while Wrangel’s aims are 
alien even to any Polish landowner. And now, when we 
hear Wrangel’s radio or the French Government radio from 
Paris, we learn that France and Wrangel are gnashing 
their teeth because they realise the implication of this 
peace which we have concluded with Poland, though they 
assert that this is no peace, and that Poland cannot sign 
it. We shall see what we shall see, but meanwhile a peace 
has been signed. Actually, neither Wrangel nor France 
understands how it could have come about. They cannot 
stomach the miracle of a devastated Soviet Russia defeat¬ 
ing civilised countries far stronger than she is. They do 
not understand that these victories stem from the funda¬ 
mental doctrine of the Communists, which says that 
property divides whereas labour unites. Private property 
is robbery, and a state based on private property is a state 
of robbers, who are fighting for a share of the spoils. 
Though they have not yet finished this war, they are 
already fighting among themselves. A year ago fourteen 
states were threatening us, yet the alliance of these fourteen 
states at once fell apart. Why did it fall apart? Simply 
because the agreement between these states only existed 
on paper, and not one of them went to war. When a war 
started and France, Poland and Wrangel joined forces, 
their alliance *oo fell apart, because they were trying to 
trip one another up. As the Russian proverb says, they 
were trying to share out the skin of a bear they had not 
yet killed. They were, in fact, squabbling over a bear they 
would never kill. 

The experience of world politics has shown that the 
alliance against Soviet Russia is irretrievably doomed to 
failure, because it is an imperialist alliance, an alliance of 
plunderers who are not united, and are bound by no 


genuine or permanent interests. They lack that which 
unites the working class; they have no common interests, 
which was again revealed during the Polish war. When 
our Red Army crushed the resistance of the Poles, captured 
Byelostok and Brest-Litovsk and approached the Polish 
frontier, this signified the collapse of the entire established 
system of international politics, for it is based on the 
Treaty of Versailles, which is a treaty of robbers and 
plunderers. When the Peace of Brest-Litovsk was imposed 
on us, a burden we bore so long, there was a world wide 
outcry that it was a robber’s peace. After Germany’s defeat, 
the League of Nations which had declared, during the war 
against Germany, that it was being fought for liberation 
and democracy, imposed a peace on the vanquished coun¬ 
try, but it was a usurer’s peace, an oppressor’s peace, a 
butcher’s peace, because Germany and Austria were looted 
and carved up. They deprived them of all means of 
subsistence, and left the children hungry and starving; 
this was a predatory peace, without any parallel. What 
then is the Treaty of Versailles? It is an unparalleled and 
predatory peace, which has made slaves of tens of millions 
of people, including the most civilised. This is no peace, 
but terms dictated to a defenceless victim by armed rob¬ 
bers. Through the Treaty of Versailles, Germany’s enemies 
have deprived her of all her colonies. Turkey, Persia and 
China have been enslaved. A situation has arisen wherein 
seven-tenths of the world’s population are in a condition 
of servitude. These slaves are to be found throughout the 
world and are at the mercy of a handful of countries— 
Britain, France and Japan. That is why this international 
system in its entirety, the order based on the Treaty of 
Versailles, stands on the brink of a volcano, for the 
enslaved seven-tenths of the world’s population are wait¬ 
ing impatiently for someone to give them a lead in a 
struggle which will shake all these countries. France hopes 
that her loans will be repaid to her, but is herself in debt 
to America whom she cannot repay because she has not 
the wherewithal, and private property is sacred over there. 
What is the essence of this sacrosanct private property? 
It is that the tsars and capitalists borrow money, while the 
workers and the peasants have to repay the debt for them. 



They are on the verge of bankruptcy. They cannot meet 
their debts. At that very moment, the Red Army broke 
through the Polish frontier and approached the German 
borders. At the time it was common talk in Germany, even 
among the reactionaries and the monarchists, that the 
Bolsheviks would save them, it being evident that the 
Versailles peace was falling apart, that there existed a 
Red Army which had declared war on all capitalists. What 
has come to pass? It has come to pass that the Peace of 
Versailles now hinges on Poland. True, we lacked the 
strength to bring the war to an end. It should, however, 
be remembered that our workers and peasants were ill- 
clad and practically barefooted, yet they marched on and 
overcame all difficulties, fighting in conditions never 
before experienced by any other army in the world. We 
lacked the strength to take Warsaw and finish off the 
Polish landowners, whiteguards and capitalists, but our 
army showed the whole world that the Treaty of Versailles 
is not the force it is made out to be, that hundreds of 
millions of people are condemned to repay loans for many 
years to come and have their grandchildren and great¬ 
grandchildren do the same in order that the French, British 
and other imperialists may be enriched. The Red Army 
proved that the Treaty of Versailles is not so very stable. 
After the Treaty of Versailles our army showed that in 
the summer of 1920, the Soviet land, devastated as it was, 
was on the eve of complete victory thanks to that Red 
Army. The world saw that a force exists to which the 
Treaty of Versailles holds no terror, and that no Ver¬ 
sailles treaties will subdue the power of the workers and 
peasants once they have learnt to deal with the land- 
owners and capitalists. 

Thus, the campaign against the Peace of Versailles, the 
campaign against all the capitalists and landowners of 
every country and against their oppression of other coun¬ 
tries, has not been in vain. Millions upon millions of 
workers and peasants in all lands have been watching this 
and giving it thought, and they now look upon the Soviet 
Republic as their deliverer. They say: the Red Army has 
shown that it can give blow for blow, though it was not 
strong enough for victory in the first year or, you might 


even say, in the first month of its peaceful construction. 
That first month of peaceful construction, however, will 
be followed by many years, and with each passing year its 
strength will multiply tenfold. It was thought that the 
Peace of Versailles was one of the all-powerful imperialists, 
but after the summer of 1920 it became clear that they 
were weaker than the workers and peasants of even a 
weak country who know how to unite their forces and 
repulse the capitalists. In the summer of 1920 Soviet 
Russia showed herself as a force that not only defended 
herself against attack, against the onslaught of the Polish 
whiteguards, but showed herself in fact as a world force 
capable of smashing the Treaty of Versailles and freeing 
hundreds of millions of people in most countries of the 
world. That is the significance of the Red Army’s cam¬ 
paign of this summer. That is why events took place in 
Britain during this war, which marked a turning-point in 
the whole of British policy. When we refused to halt our 
troops Britain replied by threatening to send her fleet 
against Petrograd. The order was given to attack Petro- 
grad. That is what the British Prime Minister announced 
to Comrade Kamenev, and all countries were notified. But 
on the day following the diispatch of this telegram, mass 
meetings were held throughout Britain, and Councils of 
Action sprang up. The workers united. All the British 
Mensheviks, who are even viler than the Russian brand, 
and fawn upon the capitalists far more assiduously—even 
they had to join in, because the workers were demanding 
it, because the British workers said they would not tolerate 
a war against Russia. All over Britain Councils of Action 
were formed, the British imperialists’ war plans were 
frustrated, and it once more turned out that, in her war 
against the imperialists of all lands, Soviet Russia has 
allies in each of them. When we Bolsheviks said: “We are 
not alone in our revolt against the landowners and capital¬ 
ists of Russia, because in every country we have allies— 
the worker and peasant; those allies are to be found in 
most countries”, we were ridiculed and were asked: “Where 
are these working people?” Yes, it is true that in Western 
Europe, where the capitalists are far stronger and live 
by fleecing hundreds of millions in the colonies, it is far 

18 * 



more difficult to rise up in revolt. There the working-class 
revolution is developing incomparably more slowly. Never¬ 
theless, it is developing. When, in July 1920, Britain threat¬ 
ened Russia with war, the British workers prevented that 
war from taking place. The British Mensheviks followed 
the lead of the British Bolsheviks. They had to do so and 
come out against the Constitution, against the law declar¬ 
ing they would not tolerate the war. If the latter was 
declared on the morrow, they would call a strike and give 
no coal to Britain and to France as well. The British 
workers declared that they wanted to determine foreign 
policy; they are directing it in the same way as the Bol¬ 
sheviks in Russia, and not like the capitalists in other 

That is an example of what the Polish war has brought 
to light. That is why we have emerged victorious within 
six months. That is why devastated, weak and backward 
Soviet Russia is defeating an alliance of states infinitely 
more powerful than she is. That is because they lack 
strength at home, and the workers, the working people in 
general, are against them. This is apparent at every crisis. 
This is apparent because they are robbers who attack each 
other and cannot unite against us; because, in the final 
analysis, private property divides people and brutalises 
them, whereas labour unites them. Labour has not only 
united the workers and peasants of Russia, it has united 
them with the workers and peasants of all lands. Conse¬ 
quently, in all these countries the people can now see that 
Soviet Russia is a force that is smashing the Peace of Ver¬ 
sailles. Soviet Russia will become stronger, and the Treaty of 
Versailles will collapse just as it all but collapsed at the 
first blow by the Red Army in July 1920. That is why the 
Polish war has ended in a manner no imperialist state had 
bargained for. This is a lesson of the utmost importance 
to us, for it shows by the example and behaviour of all 
countries taking part in international politics that our 
cause is strong; that no matter what attempts are made 
to invade Russia and no matter what military moves are 
made against us—and in all probability many more will 
be made—all these attempts will go up in smoke as we 
know from our actual experience, which has steeled us. 


After every such attempt by our enemies, we shall emerge 
stronger than ever. 

I shall now turn from international politics, where the 
clash with the Peace of Versailles demonstrated our 
strength, to problems that are more immediate and prac¬ 
tical, to the situation which has arisen in connection with 
the Treaty of Versailles. I shall not dwell on the significance 
of the Second Congress of the Communist International, 
which took place in Moscow in July, a congress of the 
Communists of the whole world, and also of the Congress 
of the Peoples of the East, which took place afterwards in 
Baku. 107 These were international congresses which united 
the Communists and showed that in all civilised countries 
and in all the backward countries of the East, the banner 
of Bolshevism, the programme of Bolshevism, the line of 
Bolshevik action are an emblem of salvation, an emblem 
of struggle to the workers of all civilised countries and the 
peasants of all the backward colonial countries. They 
showed that, during the past three years, Soviet Russia 
not only beat off those who fell upon her in order to 
throttle her, but won the sympathy of the working people 
of the whole world; that we not only defeated our enemies, 
but acquired and are still acquiring new allies daily and 
by the hour. That which was achieved by the congress of 
Communists in Moscow and by the Baku congress of 
Communist representatives of the peoples of the East 
cannot be immediately assessed or directly calculated, but 
it has been an achievement of greater significance than 
some military victories are, because it proves to us that 
the Bolsheviks’ experience, their activities and programme, 
and their call for a revolutionary struggle against the 
capitalists and imperialists have won world-wide recogni¬ 
tion; that which was achieved in Moscow in July and in 
Baku in September will for many months to come provide 
food for thought and assimilation by the workers and 
peasants of the world. This is a force which, in any conflict 
or crisis, will come out for Soviet Russia, as we have seen 
on more than one occasion. Such is the fundamental lesson 
of the Polish war, from the angle of the alignment of world 



In dealing with events at home, I must say that Wrangel 
is the chief force in the field against us. France, Poland 
and Wrangel joined forces against us. While our forces 
were wholly engaged in the war on the Western front, 
Wrangel mustered his forces, aided by the French and 
British navies. When Wrangel was approaching the Kuban, 
he was counting on support from the rich Cossack kulaks. 
Who helped Wrangel at the time? Who supplied him with 
fuel and a fleet to enable him to hold on to the Donets 
Basin? It was the British and the American navies. We 
know, however, that this landing operation failed, because 
the Kuban Cossack, though he was rich in grain, saw per¬ 
fectly through those promises of a constituent assembly, 
rule by the people and the other fine things that the 
Mensheviks, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, etc., try to fool 
simpletons with. Perhaps the Kuban peasants believed 
them while they were holding forth so eloquently, but in 
the long run they put their faith in action not words, and 
saw that though the Bolsheviks were severe people to 
deal with, they were to be preferred. As a result, Wrangel 
fled from the Kuban, and many hundreds and thousands 
of his troops were shot. Despite this, Wrangel assembled 
more and more of his forces in the Crimea, his troops 
consisting in the main of officers. He hoped that, at the 
first favourable moment, it would be possible to build up 
these forces, provided they had the backing of the 

Wrangel’s troops are better equipped with guns, tanks, 
and aircraft than all the other armies that fought in Rus¬ 
sia. Wrangel was assembling his forces when we were 
fighting the Poles; that is why I say that the peace with 
Poland is unstable. According to the preliminary peace 
signed on the 12th, the armistice will come into force only 
on the 18th, and the Poles still have two days in which 
they can repudiate it. The entire French press and the 
capitalists there are striving to get Poland to start a new 
war against Soviet Russia; Wrangel is hastening to use all 
his connections in order to wreck this peace,, because he 
can see that when the war with Poland is ended the Bol¬ 
sheviks will turn against him. The only practical conclu¬ 
sion for us, therefore, is to direct all our forces against 


Wrangel. In April this year we proposed peace on terms 
which were unfavourable to us, only in order to spare tens 
of thousands of workers and peasants the carnage of a 
new war. To us frontiers do not matter so much; we do 
not mind losing some territory in the frontier regions. To 
us it is more important to preserve the lives of tens of 
thousands of workers and peasants and to retain the possi¬ 
bility of peaceful construction, than to keep a small piece 
of territory. That is why we submitted this peace proposal 
and now repeat that Wrangel is the main threat, that his 
troops, which have meanwhile grown enormously in 
strength, are fighting desperately, at points have crossed 
the Dnieper and have assumed the offensive. The Wrangel 
front and the Polish front are one and the same thing, and 
the question of the war against Wrangel is a question of 
the war against Poland; to convert the preliminary peace 
with Poland into a permanent peace we must crush Wran¬ 
gel in the shortest possible space of time. If that is not 
done, we cannot be certain that the Polish landowners and 
capitalists, under pressure from the French landowners and 
capitalists and with their help, will not once again try 
to embroil us in war. That is why I am taking advantage 
of this broadly representative meeting to draw your atten¬ 
tion to this fundamental question and to ask you to make 
use of your position and authority in order to influence the 
masses of workers and peasants and ensure that the great¬ 
est possible efforts are made towards the full accomplish¬ 
ment of our immediate task—at all costs to crush Wrangel 
in the shortest space of time, because the possibility of 
our engaging in the work of peaceful construction depends 
only on this. 

Published in 1920 In the book: 

Verbatim Reports of the Plenary 
Sessions of the Moscow Soviet 
of Workers’, Peasants’ and 
Red Army Deputies 

Collected Works , Vol. 31, 
pp. 318-32 


Comrade Chicherin, 

The news from Britain, especially from Krasin (and 
newspaper cuttings), and particularly the news that Amer¬ 
ica will join immediately (the trade agreement between 
Russia and Britain) raises the urgent and extremely impor¬ 
tant issue of a trade agreement with Britain. 108 

If it is a question of peace or war,* it must be connected 
with Batumi and Georgia. 109 

Then, the question of debts must be made absolutely 
clear, so that they do not oblige us to pay. 

If there is to be a trade agreement, who will have the 
right to sign the final text ? Krasin alone? Or the Council 
of People’s Commissars? 

This question must be quickly prepared in all its aspects. 

With Communist greetings, 


November 19 [1920] 

First published in 1959 Published according to the 

in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI text of the Miscellany 

* The last three words are in English in the original. — Ed. 







From a Speech Delivered to the Moscow 
Gubernia Conference of the R.C.P.(B.), 

November 21, 1920 110 

(Applause.) Comrades, in speaking of the international 
position of the Soviet Republic we naturally have to deal 
mainly with the Polish war and Wrangel’s defeat. I think 
that at a meeting of Party workers who have, of course, 
followed the Party press and have frequently heard major 
reports on this question, there is no need and indeed it 
would be superfluous for me to speak in detail on this 
period or on each phase of the war against Poland, on the 
character of our offensives, or on the significance of our 
defeat at Warsaw. I presume that most of the comrades 
are so familiar with this aspect of the matter that I would 
only be repeating myself, which would be unsatisfactory 
to these comrades. I shall therefore speak, not on the vari¬ 
ous episodes and turns of our Polish campaign but on the 
results we now have before us. 

After the Red Army’s brilliant victories in the summer, 
the serious defeat at Warsaw, and the conclusion of a 
preliminary peace with Poland, which at this very moment, 
in Riga, is being or at least should be turned into a con¬ 
clusive peace, the chances of that preliminary peace really 
becoming conclusive have greatly increased as a result 
of Wrangel’s debacle. Now that the latter has become an 
established fact the imperialist press in the Entente coun- 



tries is beginning to show its cards and disclose what it 
has most of all kept in the dark. 

I do not know whether you noticed a brief news item 
published in the papers today or some days ago to the 
effect that the newspaper Temps, mouthpiece of the French 
imperialist bourgeoisie, now speaks of the peace with 
Poland having been signed against France’s advice. There 
can be no doubt that the French bourgeoisie’s spokesmen 
are admitting a truth they would have preferred to cover 
up and indeed have covered up for a very long time. 
Despite the unfavourable terms of the Polish peace (which 
are more advantageous than those we ourselves offered 
to the Polish landowners this April in order to avoid any 
war), and they are indeed unfavourable as compared to 
what might have been achieved but for the extremely 
serious situation at Warsaw, we succeeded in getting terms 
that frustrate the greater part of the imperialists’ overall 
plan. The French bourgeoisie have now acknowledged that 
they insisted on Poland continuing the war, and were 
opposed to the conclusion of a peace, because they feared 
the rout of Wrangel’s army and wished to support a new 
intervention and campaign against the Soviet Republic. 
Though Polish imperialism’s conditions have impelled it to 
go to war against Russia—despite this—the French 
imperialists’ plans have collapsed, and as a result we now 
have gained something more than a mere breathing-space. 

Of the small states formerly belonging to the Russian 
Empire, Poland is among those that have been most of 
all at odds with the Great-Russian nation during the last 
three years, and made the greatest claims to a large slice 
of territory inhabited by non-Poles. We concluded peace 
with Finland, Estonia and Latvia also against the wishes 
of the imperialist Entente, but this was easier because the 
bourgeoisie of Finland, Estonia and Latvia entertained no 
imperialist aims that would call for a war against the 
Soviet Republic, whereas the Polish bourgeois republic 
had an eye, not only to Lithuania and Byelorussia but the 
Ukraine as well. Furthermore, it was impelled along the 
same direction by the age-old struggle of Poland, who used 
to be a great power and is now pitting herself against 
another great power—Russia. Even at present, Poland 



cannot hold back from this age-long struggle. That is why 
Poland has been far more bellicose and stubborn in her 
war plans against our Republic, and why our present 
success in concluding peace against the wishes of the 
Entente is so much more resounding. Among the states 
which have preserved the bourgeois system and border on 
Russia, there is no other country but Poland on which the 
Entente can rely in a long-term plan of military inter¬ 
vention; that is why in their common hate of the Soviets 
all the bourgeois states are directly interested in having 
Eastern Galicia under the control of the Polish landed 

Moreover, Poland lays claim to the Ukraine and Lithu¬ 
ania. This gives the campaign a particularly acute and 
stubborn character. Keeping Poland supplied with war 
materials has, naturally, been the main concern of France 
and certain other powers, and it is quite impossible to 
estimate just how much money has gone into this. There¬ 
fore, the importance of the Red Army’s final victory 
despite our defeat at Warsaw, is particularly great, for it 
has placed Poland in a position in which she is unable to 
prosecute the war. She has had to agree to peace terms 
that have given her less than those we proposed in April 
1920, before the Polish offensive, when we, unwilling to 
discontinue our work of economic construction, proposed 
boundaries that were highly disadvantageous to us. At 
that time, the press of the petty-bourgeois patriots, to 
whose number both our Socialist-Revolutionaries and 
Mensheviks belong, accused the Bolsheviks of submissive¬ 
ness, and an almost Tolstoyan attitude displayed by the 
Soviet government. The latter term was used to qualify 
our acceptance of peace along the proposed Pilsudski line, 
which left Minsk in Polish hands, the boundary lying some 
50 versts and at places some 100 versts east of the present 
line. Of course, I do not have to tell a meeting of Party 
workers why we accepted, and had to accept, worse bounda¬ 
ries if indeed our work of economic construction was 
to go on. The outcome was that, by waging war, Poland, 
which had retained her bourgeois system, brought about 
an acute dislocation of her entire economy, a tremendous 
growth of discontent, and a bourgeois reign of terror, not 



only against the industrial workers but against the farm 
labourers as well. Poland’s entire position as a bourgeois 
state became so precarious that there could be no question 
of continuing the war. 

The successes scored in this respect by the Soviets have 
been tremendous. When, three years ago, we raised the 
question of the tasks and the conditions of the proletarian 
revolution’s victory in Russia, we always stated emphati¬ 
cally that victory .could not be permanent unless it was 
followed up by a proletarian revolution in the West, 
and that a correct appraisal of our revolution was pos¬ 
sible only from the international point of view. For victory 
to be lasting, we must achieve the victory of the proletar¬ 
ian revolution in all, or at any rate in several, of the main 
capitalist countries. After three years of desperate and 
stubborn struggle, we can see in what respect our predic¬ 
tions have or have not materialised. They have not mate¬ 
rialised in the sense that there has been no rapid or simple 
solution of the problem. None of us, of course, expected 
that such an unequal struggle as the one waged by Russia 
against the whole of the capitalist world could last for 
three years. It has emerged that neither side—the Russian 
Soviet Republic or the capitalist world—has gained vic¬ 
tory or suffered defeat; at the same time it has turned out 
that, while our forecasts did not materialise simply, rapidly 
and directly, they were fulfilled insofar as we achieved the 
main thing—the possibility has been maintained of the 
existence of proletarian rule and the Soviet Republic even 
in the event of the world socialist revolution being delayed. 
In this respect it must be said that the Republic’s interna¬ 
tional position today provides the best and most precise 
confirmation of all our plans and all our policy. 

Needless to say, there can be no question of comparing 
the military strength of the R.S.F.S.R. with that of all the 
capitalist powers. In this respect we are incomparably 
weaker than they are, yet, after three years of war, we 
have forced almost all of these states to abandon the idea 
of further intervention. This means that what we saw as 
possible three years ago, while the imperialist war was 
not yet over, i.e., a highly protracted situation, without 
any final decision one way or the other, has come about. 


That has been, not because we have proved militarily 
stronger and the Entente weaker, but because throughout 
this period the disintegration in the Entente countries has 
intensified, whereas our inner strength has grown. This 
has been confirmed and proved by the war. The Entente 
was unable to fight us with its own forces. The workers 
and peasants of the capitalist countries could not be forced 
to fight us. The bourgeois states were able to emerge from 
the imperialist war with their bourgeois regimes intact. 
They were able to stave off and delay the crisis hanging 
over them, but basically they so undermined their own po¬ 
sition that, despite all their gigantic military forces, they had 
to acknowledge, after three years, that they were unable 
to crush the Soviet Republic with its almost non-exist¬ 
ent military forces. It has thus turned out that our policy 
and our predictions have proved fundamentally correct in 
all respects and that the oppressed people in any capitalist 
country have indeed shown themselves our allies, for it 
was they who stopped the war. Without having gained an 
international victory, which we consider the only sure vic¬ 
tory, we are in a position of having won conditions enabling 
us to exist side by side with capitalist powers, who are now 
compelled to enter into trade relations with us. In the 
course of this struggle we have won the right to an inde¬ 
pendent existence. 

Thus a glance at our international position as a whole 
will show that we have achieved tremendous successes and 
have won, not only a breathing-space but something much 
more significant. By a breathing-space we understand a 
brief period during which the imperialist powers have had 
many opportunities to renew in greater force the war 
against us. Today, too, we do not underestimate the danger 
and do not deny the possibility of future military inter¬ 
vention by the capitalist countries. It is essential for us 
to maintain our military preparedness. However, if we cast 
a glance at the conditions in which we defeated all at¬ 
tempts made by the Russian counter-revolutionaries and 
achieved a formal peace with all the Western states, it 
will be clear that we have something more than a breathing- 
space: we have entered a new period, in which we have 
won the right to our fundamental international existence 



in the network of capitalist states. Domestic conditions 
have not allowed a single powerful capitalist state to hurl 
its army against Russia; this has been due to the revolu¬ 
tion having matured within such countries, preventing 
them from overcoming us as quickly as they might have 
done. There were British, French and Japanese armies on 
Russian territory for three years. There can be no doubt 
that the most insignificant concentration of forces by these 
three powers would have been quite enough to win a vic¬ 
tory over us in a few months, if not in a few weeks. We 
were able to contain that attack only on account of the 
demoralisation among the French troops and the unrest 
that set in among the British and Japanese. We have made 
use of this divergence of imperialist interests all the time. 
We defeated the interventionists only because their inter¬ 
ests divided them, thereby enhancing our strength and 
unity. This gave us a breathing-space and rendered impos¬ 
sible the complete victory of German imperialism at the 
time of the Peace of Brest-Litovsk. 

These dissensions have become more aggravated of late, 
especially because of the project of an agreement on con¬ 
cessions with a group of American capitalist sharks, with 
the toughest of them, headed by a multimillionaire who 
expects to form a group of multimillionaires . 111 We know 
that almost all reports from the Far East bear witness to 
the extreme resentment felt in Japan over the conclusion 
of this agreement, although so far there has been no agree¬ 
ment, but only the draft of one. Japanese public opinion, 
however, is already seething, and today I read a commu¬ 
nication which says that Japan is accusing Soviet Russia of 
wanting to set Japan against America. 

We have correctly appraised the intensity of the impe¬ 
rialist rivalry and have told ourselves that we must make 
systematic use of the dissension between them so as to 
hamper their struggle against us. Political dissension is 
already apparent in the relations between Britain and 
France. Today we can speak, not merely of a breathing- 
space, but of a real chance of a new and lengthy period of 
development. Until now we have actually had no basis in 
the international sense. We now have this basis, the rea¬ 
son being the attitude of the smaller powers that are com- 



pletely dependent on the Great Powers both in the military 
and in the economic sense. It now appears that, despite 
the pressure brought to bear by France, Poland has signed 
a peace with us. The Polish capitalists have a hate of So¬ 
viet power; they crush the most ordinary strikes with un¬ 
paralleled ferocity. They want war with Soviet Russia more 
than anything else, yet they prefer to make peace with 
us rather than carry out the conditions set by the Entente. 
We see that the imperialist powers dominate the whole 
world although they comprise an insignificant part of the 
world’s population. The fact that a country has appeared 
that for three years has resisted world imperialism has 
considerably changed the international situation; the mi¬ 
nor powers—and they form the majority of the world’s 
population—are therefore all inclined to make peace with 

The entry of the socialist country into trade relations 
with capitalist countries is a most important factor ensur¬ 
ing our existence in such a complex and absolutely excep¬ 
tional situation. 

I have had occassion to observe a certain Spargo, an 
American social-chauvinist close to our Right Socialist- 
Revolutionaries and Mensheviks, one of the leaders of the 
Second International and member of the American Social¬ 
ist Party, a kind of American Alexinsky, and author of a 
number of anti-Bolshevik books, who has reproached us— 
and has quoted the fact as evidence of the complete col¬ 
lapse of communism—for speaking of transactions with 
capitalist powers. He has written that he cannot imagine 
better proof of the complete collapse of communism and 
the breakdown of its programme. I think that anybody 
who has given thought to the matter will say the reverse. 
No better proof of the Russian Soviet Republic’s material 
and moral victory over the capitalists of the whole world 
can be found than the fact that the powers that took up 
arms against us because of our terror and our entire sys¬ 
tem have been compelled, against their will, to enter into 
trade relations with us in the knowledge that by so doing 
they are strengthening us. This might have been advanced 
as proof of the collapse of communism only if we had 
promised, with the forces of Russia alone, to transform the 



whole world, or had dreamed of doing so. However, w r e 
have never harboured such crazy ideas and have always 
said that our revolution will be victorious when it is .sup¬ 
ported by the workers of all lands. In fact, they went half¬ 
way in their support, for they weakened the hand raised 
against us, yet in doing so they were helping us. 

I shall not dwell any further on this question but 
shall only remark that at the moment conditions in the 
Caucasus are becoming most complex and extremely dif¬ 
ficult to analyse, with the likelihood that war may be 
forced on us any day. But with the peace with Poland 
almost assured and Wrangel wiped out, this war cannot be 
so alarming and, if forced on us T only promises to strengthen 
and fortify our position even more. Newspaper reports of 
events in Armenia and Turkey give us some idea of this. 
An extremely confused situation has arisen, but I am ab¬ 
solutely confident that we shall emerge from it, preserving 
peace on the present basis, which in some respects is ex¬ 
tremely favourable, on a basis that is satisfactory to us and 
permits our economic existence. We are doing all we can 
to ensure this. It is, however, quite likely that circum¬ 
stances may arise which will directly force war on us or 
indirectly lead to it. We can view this prospect quite calmly 
—this will be a war in a distant region, with the balance 
of forces fully in our favour, probably ensuring greater 
advantages than the Polish war. The Polish war was a 
war on two fronts, with a threat from Wrangel, and it 
could not be called peripheral, because the Pilsudski line 
did not run so far from Moscow. With this, I shall conclude 
my review of the international situation. 

Published in 1920 in the pamphlet: 

Current Questions of the Party’s 
Present Work. Published 
by the Moscow Committee, R.C.P. (B.) 

Collected Worlcs, Vol. 31. 
pp. 408-15 



DECEMBEB 22-29, 1920 



Comrades, I think you have made a fully correct deci¬ 
sion by preferring the discussion on concessions to be held 
first in the Party group. To the best of our knowledge, the 
question of concessions has everywhere aroused consider¬ 
able concern and even anxiety, not only in Party circles 
and among the working-class masses but also among the 
masses of the peasantry. All comrades have pointed out 
that, since the decree of November 23 of this year, the ques¬ 
tions most frequently raised and the written questions sub¬ 
mitted at most meetings held on a variety of subjects have 
dealt with concessions, and the general tone of the ques¬ 
tions, as well as of talk on the subject, has been one of 
apprehension: we have driven out our own capitalists, and 
now we want to admit others. I believe that this apprehen¬ 
sion, this widespread interest in concessions—displayed, 
not only by Party comrades but by many others—is a good 
sign, which shows that in three years of incredibly hard 
struggle the workers’ and peasants’ state power has become 
so strong and our experience of the capitalists has become 
so fixed in the mind that the broad masses consider the 
workers’ and peasants’ state power stable enough to 
manage without concessions; they also consider their lesson 
learnt well enough to avoid any deals with the capitalists 

19 * 



unless there is a dire necessity to do so. This sort of super¬ 
vision from below, this kind of apprehension emanating 
from the masses, and this kind of anxiety among non- 
Party circles show the highly vigilant attention that is being 
paid to relations between us and the capitalists. I believe 
that on this score we should absolutely welcome this ap¬ 
prehension as revealing the temper of the masses. 

Yet I think that we shall come to the conclusion that, 
in the question of concessions, we cannot be guided by this 
revolutionary instinct alone. When we have analysed all 
aspects of the question we shall see that the policy we have 
adopted—the policy of offering concessions—is the correct 
one. I can tell you briefly that the main subject of my 
report—or rather the repetition of a talk I had very recent¬ 
ly in Moscow with several hundred leading executives, 113 
because I have not prepared a report and cannot present it 
to you—the main subject of this talk is to offer proof of 
two premises: first, that any war is merely the continuation 
of peacetime politics by other means, and second, that the 
concessions which we are giving, which we are forced to 
give, are a continuation of war in another form, using other 
means. To prove these two premises, or rather to prove 
only the second because the first does not require any 
special proof, I shall begin with the political aspect of the 
question. I shall dwell on those relations existing between 
the present-day imperialist powers, which are important 
for an understanding of present-day foreign policy in its 
entirety, and of our reasons for adopting this policy. 

The American Vanderlip sent a letter to the Council of 
People’s Commissars in which he said that the Republi¬ 
cans, members of the Republican Party of America, the 
party of the banking interests, which is linked with memo¬ 
ries of the war against the Southern States for liberation, 
were not in power at the time. He wrote this before the 
November elections, which he hoped the Republicans would 
win (they have won them) and have their own president in 
March. The Republicans’ policy, he went on, would not 
repeat the follies that had involved America in European 
affairs, they would look after their own interests. American 
interests would lead them to a clash with Japan, and they 
would fight Japan. It might interest you to know, he went 



on, that in 1923 the U.S. navy would be stronger than 
Britain’s. To fight, they needed control of oil, without which 
they could not wage a modern war. They not only needed 
oil, but also had to take steps to ensure that the enemy did 
not get any. Japan was in a bad way in that respect. Some¬ 
where near Kamchatka there is an inlet (whose name he 
had forgotten) with oil deposits, and they did not want the 
Japanese to get that oil. If we sold them that land, Van- 
derlip could vouch that the Americans would grow so en¬ 
thusiastic that the U.S. would immediately recognise our 
government. If we offered a concession, and did not sell 
them the land, he could not say that they would refuse to 
examine the project, but he could not promise the enthusi¬ 
asm that would guarantee recognition of the Soviet Gov¬ 

Vanderlip’s letter is quite outspoken; with unparalleled 
cynicism he outlines the point of view of an imperialist 
who clearly sees that a war with Japan is imminent, and 
poses the question openly and directly—enter into a deal 
with us and you will get certain advantages from it. The 
issue is the following: the Far East, Kamchatka and a piece 
of Siberia are de facto in the possession of Japan insofar 
as her troops are in control there, and circumstances made 
necessary the creation of a buffer state, the Far Eastern 
Republic. 114 We are well aware of the unbelievable suffer¬ 
ings that the Siberian peasants are enduring at the hands 
of the Japanese imperialists and the atrocities the Japanese 
have committed in Siberia. The comrades from Siberia 
know this; their recent publications have given details of 
it. Nevertheless, we cannot go to war with Japan and must 
make every effort, not only to put off a war with Japan 
but, if possible, to avert it because, for reasons known to 
you, it is beyond our strength. At the same time Japan is 
causing us tremendous losses by depriving us of our links 
with world trade through 'the Pacific Ocean. Under such 
conditions, when we are confronted with a growing conflict, 
an imminent clash between America and Japan—for a 
most stubborn struggle has been going on for many dec- 
ades between Japan and America over the Pacific Ocean and 
the mastery of its shores, and the entire diplomatic, eco¬ 
nomic and trade history of the Pacific Ocean and its shores 



is full of quite definite indications that the struggle is devel¬ 
oping and making war between America and Japan inev¬ 
itable—we return to a situation we were in for three years: 
we are a Socialist Republic surrounded by imperialist coun¬ 
tries that are far stronger than us in the military sense, are 
using every means of agitation and propaganda to increase 
hatred for the Soviet Republic, and will never miss an op¬ 
portunity for military intervention, as they put it, i.e., to 
strangle Soviet power. 

If, remembering this, we cast a glance over the history 
of the past three years from the point of view of the inter¬ 
national situation of the Soviet Republic, it becomes clear 
that we have been able to hold out and have been able to 
defeat the Entente powers—an alliance of unparalleled 
might that was supported by our whiteguards—only be¬ 
cause there has been no unity among these powers. We 
have so far been victorious only because of the most pro¬ 
found discord among the imperialist powers, and only be¬ 
cause that discord has not been a fortuitous and internal 
dissension between parties, but a most deep-seated and 
ineradicable conflict of economic interests among the im¬ 
perialist countries which, based on private property in land 
and capital, cannot but pursue a predatory policy which 
has stultified their efforts to unite their forces against the 
Soviets. I take Japan, who controlled almost the whole of 
Siberia and could, of course, have helped Kolchak at any 
time. The main reason she did not do so was that her 
interests differ radically from those of America, and she did 
not want to pull chestnuts out of the fire for U.S. capital. 
Knowing this weakness, we could of course pursue no other 
policy than that of taking advantage of this enmity be¬ 
tween America and Japan so as to strengthen ourselves and 
delay any possibility of an agreement between Japan and 
America against us; we have had an instance of the pos¬ 
sibility of such an agreement: American newspapers carried 
the text of an agreement between all countries who had 
promised to support Kolchak. 115 

That agreement fell through, of course, but it is not im¬ 
possible that an attempt will be made to restore it at the 
first opportunity. The deeper and more formidable the com¬ 
munist movement grows, the greater will be the number 


of new attempts to strangle our Republic. Hence our policy 
of utilising the discord among the imperialist powers so as 
to hamper an agreement or to make one temporarily im¬ 
possible. This has been the fundamental line of our policy 
for three years; it necessitated the conclusion of the Peace 
of Brest-Litovsk, as well as the signing, with Bullitt, of a 
peace treaty and an armistice agreement most disadvanta¬ 
geous to us. This political line of conduct enjoins us to 
grasp at a proposal on the granting of concessions. Today 
we are giving America Kamchatka, which in any case is not 
actually ours because it is held by Japanese troops. At the 
moment we are in no condition to fight Japan. We are giv¬ 
ing America, for economic exploitation, a territory where 
we have absolutely no naval or military forces, and where 
we cannot send them. By doing so we are setting American 
imperialism against Japanese imperialism and against the 
bourgeoisie closest to us, the Japanese bourgeoisie, which 
still maintains its hold on the Far Eastern Republic. 

Thus, our main interests were political at the concessions 
negotiations. Recent events, moreover, have shown with the 
greatest clarity that we have been the gainers from the 
mere fact of negotiations on concessions. We have not yet 
granted any concessions, and shall not be able to do so 
until the American president takes office, which will not 
be before March; besides, we reserve the possibility of 
renouncing the agreement when the details are being 
worked out. 

It follows, therefore, that in this matter the economic 
interest is secondary, its Teal value lying in its political in¬ 
terest. The contents of the press we have received goes to 
show that we have been the gainers. Vanderlip himself 
insisted that the concessions plan should be kept secret for 
the time being, until the Republican Party had won the 
elections. We agreed not to publish either his letter or the 
entire preliminary draft. However, it appeared that such a 
secret could not be kept for long. No sooner had Vanderlip 
returned to America than exposures of various kinds began. 
Before the elections Harding was candidate for the presi¬ 
dency; he lias now been elected. The selfsame Harding 
published in the press a denial of the report that he was 
in touch with the Soviets through Vanderlip, That denial 



was categorical, almost in the following words: I don’t 
know Vanderlip and recognise no relations with the Soviets. 
The reason behind this denial is quite obvious. On the eve 
of the elections in bourgeois America, it might have meant 
losing several hundred thousand votes for Harding to be¬ 
come known as a supporter of an agreement with the So¬ 
viets, and so he hastened to announce in the press that he 
did not know any Vanderlip. As soon as the elections were 
over, however, information of a quite different kind began 
to come in from America. In a number of newspaper arti¬ 
cles Vanderlip came out in full support of an agreement with 
the Soviets and even wrote in one article that he compared 
Lenin to Washington. It turns out, therefore, that in the 
bourgeois countries we have propagandists for an agree¬ 
ment with us, and have won these propagandists from 
among representatives of exploiters of the worst type, such 
as Vanderlip, and not in the person of the Soviet ambas¬ 
sador or among certain journalists. 

When I told a meeting of leading executives what I am 
now telling you, a comrade just back from America where 
he had worked in Vanderlip’s factories, said he had been 
horrified; nowhere had he seen such exploitation as at 
Vanderlip’s factories. And now in the person of this capital¬ 
ist shark we have won a propagandist for trade relations 
with Soviet Russia, and even if we do not get anything 
except the proposed agreement on concessions we shall 
still be able to say that we have gained something. We have 
received a number of reports, secret ones, of course, to the 
effect that the capitalist countries have not given up the 
idea of launching a new war against Soviet Russia in the 
spring. We have learnt that preliminary steps are being 
taken by some capitalist states, while whiteguard elements 
are, it may be said, making preparations in all countries. 
Our chief interest therefore lies in achieving the re-estab¬ 
lishment of trade relations, and for that purpose we need 
to have at least a section of the capitalists on our side. 

In Britain the struggle has been going on for a long time. 
We have gained by the mere fact that among those who 
represent the worst capitalist exploitation we'have people 
who back the policy of restoring trade relations with Rus¬ 
sia. The agreement with Britain—a trade agreement—has 



not yet been signed. Krasin is now actively negotiating it 
in London. The British Government has submitted its draft 
to us and we have presented our counterdraft, but all 
the same we see that the British Government is dragging 
out the negotiations and that there is a reactionary military 
group hard at work there which is hindering the conclusion 
of trade agreements and has so far been successful. It is 
our prime interest and prime duty to support anything that 
can strengthen the parties and groups working for the con¬ 
clusion of this agreement with us. In Vanderlip we have 
gained such a supporter, not by mere chance or because 
Vanderlip is particularly enterprising or knows Siberia very 
well. The causes here lie much deeper and are linked with 
the development of the interests of British imperialism, 
which possesses a huge number of colonies. This rift be¬ 
tween American and British imperialism is deep, and it is 
our imperative duty to base ourselves on it. 

I have mentioned that Vanderlip is particularly knowl¬ 
edgeable in respect of Siberia. When our talks were com¬ 
ing to a close, Comrade Chicherin pointed out that Vander¬ 
lip should be received because it would have an excellent 
effect on his further actions in Western Europe. Of course, 
the prospect of talking to such a capitalist shark was not 
of the pleasantest, but then I had had to talk very politely, 
by way of duty, even to the late Mirbach, so I was certainly 
not afraid of a talk with Vanderlip. It is interesting that 
when Vanderlip and I exchanged all sorts of pleasantries 
and he started joking and telling me that the Americans 
are an extremely practical people and do not believe wbat 
they are told until they see it with their own eyes, I said 
to him, half in banter: “Now you can see how good things 
are in Soviet Russia and you can introduce the same in 
America.” He answered me, not in English but in Russian: 
“Mozhet byt.”* “Why, you even know Russian?” He an¬ 
swered: “A long time ago I travelled five thousand versts 
through Siberia and the country interested me greatly.” 
This humorous exchange of pleasantries with Vanderlip 
ended by his saying as he was leaving, “Yes, it is true 
Mr. Lenin has no horns and I must tell that to my friends 

* Perhaps.— Ed. 



in America.” It would have seemed simply ridiculous had 
it not been for the further reports in the European press to 
the effect that the Soviets are a monster no relations can 
be established with. We were given an opportunity to throw 
into that swamp a stone in the person of Vanderlip, who 
favours the re-establishment of trade relations with us. 

There has not been a single report from Japan that has 
not spoken of the extraordinary alarm in Japanese com¬ 
mercial circles. The Japanese public say that they will never 
go against their own interests, and are opposed to conces¬ 
sions in Soviet Russia. In short, we have a terrific aggrava¬ 
tion of the enmity between Japan and America and thus 
an undoubted slackening of both Japanese and American 
pressure on us. 

At the meeting of executives in Moscow where I had to 
mention the fact, the following question was asked. “It 
appears,” one of the comrades wrote, “that we are driving 
Japan and America to war, but it is the workers and peasants 
who will do the fighting. Although these are imperialist 
powers, is it worthy of us socialists to drive two powers into 
a war against each other, which will lead to the shedding 
of workers’ blood?” I replied that if we were really driving 
workers and peasants to war that would be a crime. All our 
politics and propaganda, however, are directed towards 
putting an end to war and in no way towards driving 
nations to war. Experience has shown sufficiently that the 
socialist revolution is the only way out of eternal warfare. 
Our policy, therefore, is not that of involving others in a 
war. We have not done anything justifying, directly or 
indirectly, a war between Japan and America. All our prop¬ 
aganda and all our newspaper articles try to drive home 
the truth that a war between America and Japan would be 
just as much an imperialist war as the one between the 
British and the German groups in 1914, and that socialists 
should think, not of defending their respective countries 
but of overthrowing the power of the capitalists; they 
should think of the workers’ revolution. Is it the correct 
policy for us to use the discord between the imperialist 
bandits to make it more difficult for them to unite against 
us, who are doing everything in,our power to accelerate that 
revolution, but are in the position of a weak socialist re- 



public that is being attacked by imperialist bandits? Of 
course, it is the correct policy. We have pursued that policy 
for four years. The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was the chief 
expression of this policy. While the German imperialists 
were offering resistance, we were able to hold out even 
when the Red Army had not yet been formed, by using the 
contradictions existing between the imperialists. 

Such was the situation in which our concessions policy 
in respect to Kamchatka emerged. This type of concession 
is quite exceptional. I shall speak later of the way the other 
concessions are taking shape. For the moment I shall con¬ 
fine myself to the political aspect of the question. I want 
to point out that the relations between Japan and America 
show why it is to our advantage to offer concessions or to 
use them as an inducement. Concessions presume some 
kind of re-establishment of peaceful agreements, the resto¬ 
ration of trade relations; they presume the possibility for 
us to begin direct and extensive purchases of the machinery 
we need. We must turn all our efforts to achieving this. 
That has not yet been done. 

The comrade who has asked about the resumption of 
trade relations with Britain wants to know why the signing 
of the agreement with that country has been held up. My 
answer is that it is being delayed because the British Gov¬ 
ernment is hesitant. Most of the trade and industrial bour¬ 
geoisie in Britain are in favour of relations being resumed 
and clearly realise that any action for war means taking 
enormous risks and speeding up the revolution. You will 
remember that during our drive on Warsaw the British 
Government presented us with an ultimatum, threatening 
to order its navy to sail against Petrograd. You will re¬ 
member that Councils of Action sprang up all over Britain 
at the time and the Menshevik leaders of the British work¬ 
ing class declared that they were against war and would 
not permit one. On the other hand, the reactionary section 
of the British bourgeoisie and the military clique at court 
are in favour of the war continuing. The delay in signing 
the trade agreement must undoubtedly be ascribed to their 
influence. I shall not go into all the details of these trade 
relations with Britain, or of this agreement on trade rela¬ 
tions with Britain, because it would take me too far afield. 



This delicate problem had recently to be very thoroughly 
discussed by the Central Committee of the Party. We have 
returned to it again and again, and our policy in this mat¬ 
ter has been marked by the greatest degree of accommoda¬ 
tion. Our aim now is to obtain a trade agreement with 
Britain so as to start more regular trade and be able to buy 
as soon as possible the machinery necessary for our exten¬ 
sive plan to rehabilitate the national economy. The sooner 
we do this the greater will be the basis ensuring our eco¬ 
nomic independence of the capitalist countries. At present, 
after having burnt their fingers in the armed invasion of 
Russia, they cannot think of an immediate resumption of 
the war. We must seize the opportunity and bend every 
effort to achieve trade relations even at the cost of maxi¬ 
mum concessions, for we cannot for a moment believe in 
lasting trade relations with the imperialist powers; the 
respite will be temporary. The experience of the history of 
revolutions and great conflicts teaches us that wars, a series 
of wars, are inevitable. The existence of a Soviet Republic 
alongside of capitalist countries—a Soviet Republic sur¬ 
rounded by capitalist countries—is so intolerable to the 
capitalists that they will seize any opportunity to resume 
the war. The peoples are weary of the imperialist war and 
threaten to make their indignation felt if war continues, 
but the possibility of the capitalists being able to resume it 
in a few years is not precluded. That is why we must exert 
every effort to utilise the opportunity, since it exists, and 
conclude trade agreements. I can say the following here 
(this is not for record). I think that we shall ultimately 
emerge on top as a result of our firm stand that the Com¬ 
munist International is not a governmental institution. That 
is the more probable for the British bourgeoisie having to 
realise the ridiculousness of rising up against the Third 
International. The Third International was formed in March 
1919. Its Second Congress was held in July 1920, following 
which the terms proposed in Moscow were made publicly 
known in all countries. An open struggle is going on for 
adhesion to the Communist International. The organisa¬ 
tional foundations for the formation of Communist parties 
exist everywhere. In these circumstances, any attempt to 
present us seriously with an ultimatum that we get rid of 



the Communist International is inexcusable. However, the 
emphasis laid on the matter shows where the shoe pinches 
and what displeases them in our policy. Even without that, 
we have known what it is in our policy that is not to their 
liking. The East is another question that can be spoken of 
at a Party meeting, and is alarming Britain. The latter 
wants us to give assurances that we will do nothing against 
Britain’s interests in the East. We are willing and ready to 
give such an undertaking. As an example I might mention 
that the Congress of Peoples of the East, a Communist con¬ 
gress, took place, not in the R.S.F.S.R. but in Baku, in the 
independent republic of Azerbaijan. The British Govern¬ 
ment will have no reason to accuse us of doing anything 
against British interests. In their ignorance of our Consti¬ 
tution, they sometimes confuse the Azerbaijan Republic 
with the Russian Soviet Republic. Our laws are definite 
and precise on that score, and it will be easy to refute the 
false interpretations of the British ministers. However, 
there are still differences on this subject, and Krasin is en¬ 
gaged with the ministers in talks on these two sore points. 

In July, when Poland was threatened with utter defeat, 
and the Red Army was about to crush her, the complete 
text of an agreement was presented by Britain, which in 
effect said that we had to declare as a matter of principle 
that we would not carry on official propaganda or do any¬ 
thing contrary to British interests in the East. That was to 
be laid down at a subsequent political conference, but at 
the moment they were concluding a definite trade agree¬ 
ment. They asked whether we would like to sign it. We 
replied that we would. Today we say again that we will 
sign such an agreement. The political conference will spec¬ 
ify Britain’s interests in the East. We also have certain 
interests in the East, and we shall set them forth in detail 
when the need arises. Britain cannot say outright that she 
is abandoning her July proposal and so she is dragging 
things out and concealing from her own people the truth 
about the negotiations. The outcome of the negotiations is 
uncertain and we cannot guarantee that an agreement will 
be signed. The very powerful court and military circles in 
Britain are opposed to the agreement. We are, however, 
proposing maximum concessions, and we believe it to be in 



our interests to sign a trade pact and purchase with all pos¬ 
sible dispatch some of the essentials for the restoration of 
the railways (i.e., locomotives), for the rehabilitation of in¬ 
dustry, and for electrification. This is more important to us 
than anything else. If we achieve that, we shall become so 
strong in a few years that even, if the worst comes to the 
worst and there is armed intervention in a few years’ time, 
it will fail because we shall be stronger than we are now. 
The line we in the Central Committee are following is one 
of maximum concessions to Britain. If these gentlemen 
think they will catch us breaking promises, we declare that 
our government will not carry on any official propaganda 
and that we have no intention of infringing on any of 
Britain’s interests in the East. If they hope to derive some 
advantage from this, let them try; we shall not be the 

I now come to the question of the relations between Bri¬ 
tain and France. These are confused. On the one hand, 
Britain and France belong to the League of Nations and 
are obliged to act jointly; on the other hand, whenever any 
tension arises they fail to do so. When Comrade Kamenev 
was in London conducting negotiations together with Kra¬ 
sin, this became quite obvious. France was in favour of 
supporting Poland and Wrangel, but the British Govern¬ 
ment declared it would not support France. Concessions 
are more acceptable to Britain than to France, which still 
aspires to get her debts paid back, while in Britain capital¬ 
ists with any business sense no longer think about it. From 
that angle, too, it is to our advantage to use the dissension 
between Britain and France, and we must therefore insist 
on the political proposal of concessions to Britain. We now 
have a draft agreement on timber concessions in the Far 
North. Since there is no political unity between Britain and 
France, our position imposes on us the duty of even in¬ 
curring a certain risk, if only we succeed in hampering a 
military alliance between Britain and France against us. 
A new war that Britain and France will support against us 
will be an immense burden on us (even if it ends, as the 
war with Wrangel has done, in our complete victory); it 
will hinder our economic development and worsen the con¬ 
dition of the workers and peasants. We must therefore be 



ready to do whatever involves the least loss. Obviously, the 
losses from concessions are negligible compared with those 
that would arise from a delay in our economic development 
and the loss of thousands of workers and peasants that 
would ensue were we unable to withstand the alliance of 
the imperialists. Negotiations on concessions with Britain 
are one of the means of standing up to their alliance. That 
is the political aspect of the issue. 

Last, the final aspect of the matter is the attitude of 
Britain and the entile Entente to Germany. If we exclude 
America, Germany is the most advanced country. In the 
development of electricity her technical level is even higher 
than America’s. The conditions obtaining in Germany in 
consequence of the Treaty of Versailles make her existence 
impossible. Because of that situation it is natural for Ger¬ 
many to be prompted towards an alliance with Russia. 
When the Russian troops were approaching Warsaw, all 
Germany was seething. An alliance between Russia and 
Germany, a country that has been strangled, a country that 
.is able to set gigantic productive forces in motion—this 
situation has led to a political mix up in Germany: the 
German Black Hundreds sympathise with the Russian Bol¬ 
sheviks in the same way as the Spartacus League does. This 
can well be understood because it derives from economic 
causes, and is the basis of the entire economic situation and 
of our foreign policy. 

While we stand alone and the capitalist world is strong, 
our foreign policy consists, on the one hand, in our having 
to utilise disagreements (to vanquish all the imperialist 
powers would, of course, be a most pleasant thing, but for 
a fairly long time we shall not be in a position to do so). 
On the one hand, our existence depends on the presence of 
radical differences between the imperialist powers, and, on 
the other, on the Entente’s victory and the Peace of Ver¬ 
sailles having thrown the vast majority of the German 
nation into a situation it is impossible for them to live in. 
The Peace of Versailles has created a situation in which 
Germany cannot even dream of a breathing-space, or of not 
being plundered, of not having the means of subsistence 
taken away from her, of her people not being doomed to 
starvation and extinction; Germany cannot even dream of 



any of these things, so that, naturally, her only means of 
salvation lies in an alliance with Soviet Russia, a country 
towards which her eyes are therefore turning. They are 
furiously opposing Soviet Russia; they detest the Bolshe¬ 
viks, and shoot down their own Communists in the manner 
of real whiteguards. The German bourgeois government has 
an implacable hatred of the Bolsheviks, but such is its in¬ 
ternational position that, against its own desires, the gov¬ 
ernment is driven towards peace with Soviet Russia. That, 
comrades, is the second corner-stone of our international 
policy, our foreign policy; it is to show peoples that are 
conscious of the bourgeois yoke that there is no salvation 
for them without the Soviet Republic. Since the Soviet Re¬ 
public withstood the onslaught of the imperialists for three 
years, this goes to show that one country, and that country 
alone, has been successful in hurling back this imperialist 
yoke. That country has been called a country of “robbers”, 
“plunderers”, “bandits”, Bolsheviks, etc.—let that be so, 
but still it is impossible to improve the economic situation 
without that country. 

In a situation such as this the question of concessions 
acquires still another aspect. The pamphlet 1 have in my 
hands is the Decree on Concessions 116 of November 23. It 
will be distributed to all members of the Congress. We in¬ 
tend to publish this pamphlet abroad, in several languages. 
It is our immediate object to do everything possible to 
arouse interest in concessions among the population of the 
greatest number of countries, to interest those countries 
that are the most oppressed. The divergence of interests 
between Japan and America is very great. They are unable 
to agree between themselves over China, a number of is¬ 
lands, etc. The divergence of interests between Germany 
and the Entente is of another kind. Germany’s existence has 
been made impossible by the conditions in which the 
Entente has placed her. People are dying there because the 
Entente has been requisitioning their motors and their 
cattle. Such a situation urges Germany towards a rappro¬ 
chement with Soviet Russia. I do not know the details of 
the treaty between Germany and the Entente, but in any 
case the treaty is known to ban direct trade relations be¬ 
tween Germany and Soviet Russia. When we arranged for 


the purchase of German locomotives, that was done through 
the agency of Sweden. Germany will hardly be able to 
restore direct trade relations with us before April 1921. 
However, progress in restoring our trade relations with 
Germany is more rapid than with the Entente. The condi¬ 
tions of existence in Germany are compelling the German 
people as a whole, including the Black Hundreds and the 
capitalists, to seek relations with Soviet Russia. Germany is 
already linked with us by certain trade relations. These 
links can become closer inasmuch as we are offering Ger¬ 
many agricultural concessions. It is therefore clear that we 
must advance concessions as an economic method, even 
irrespective of the measure in which we are able to put the 
project into effect. The interest in concessions is so obvious 
that even if we do not succeed in granting a single conces¬ 
sion, or none of our agreements are put into effect (and 
even that is quite possible)—even in that case we shall still 
have gained something, and we still have to pursue our 
policy because by so doing we make it more difficult for 
the imperialist countries to attack us. 

Irrespective of this, we must tell all the oppressed peo¬ 
ples that a handful of countries are overtly or covertly, 
consciously or unconsciously, strangling other peoples— 
this derives from the Treaty of Versailles—and these peo¬ 
ples are turning to us for help, and are becoming more and 
more aware of the economic necessity of an alliance with 
Soviet Russia against international imperialism. Agricultur¬ 
al concessions, therefore, are of a wider scope than the old 
bourgeois concessions; they are different from the old cap¬ 
italist concessions. They remain capitalist in character 
inasmuch as we tell the German capitalists to bring so 
many tractors into our country, in exchange for which we 
shall give them so much excellent virgin land and grain. 
We are attracting capital with the prospect of tremendous 
profits. In this respect the concessions are a purely capital¬ 
ist undertaking, but they acquire an immeasurably greater 
significance because Germany as a nation, Austria and 
other countries cannot exist because they need aid in food 
and because the entire people, irrespective of whether the 
capitalists make a profit of a hundred or two hundred per 
cent, can, despite anti-Bolshevik prejudices, see that the 



Bolsheviks are establishing completely different internation¬ 
al relations which make it possible for all oppressed peo¬ 
ples to rid themselves of the imperialist yoke. That is why 
our successes of the last three years will lead to still greater 
successes in foreign policy during the coming year. Our 
policy is grouping around the Soviet Republic those capital¬ 
ist countries which are being strangled by imperialism. That 
is why our concessions proposal has more than a capitalist 
significance; that is why it is a hand held out, not only to 
the German capitalists with the offer, “Bring us hundreds 
of tractors and make as much as three hundred per cent 
on each ruble if you like”; it is a hand held out to oppressed 
peoples, an alliance of the oppressed masses, which is 
a factor in the future proletarian revolution. The doubts 
and fears that still exist in the advanced countries, which 
assert that Russia could risk a socialist revolution because 
she is a vast country with her own means of subsistence 
while they, the industrial countries of Europe, cannot do 
so because they have no allies—these doubts and fears are 
groundless. We say: “You now have an ally, Soviet Russia. 
Since we are granting concessions, this will be an alliance 
that will consolidate the alliance against world imperialism. 
This is a postulate that must not be lost sight of, it justifies 
our concessions policy and proves the need to grant con¬ 

... Our economic interest in timber concessions in the 
Far North of European Russia is obvious; there are tens 
and even hundreds of millions of dessiatines of forest land 
which we are quite unable to exploit because we lack the 
railways, the means of production and the possibility of 
providing the workers there with food, but which could be 
exploited by a country that owns a big merchant fleet and 
could fell and saw timber properly and export it in tremen¬ 
dous quantities. 

If we want to trade with foreign countries—and we do 
want to, because we realise its necessity—our chief interest 
is in obtaining as quickly as possible, from the capitalist 
countries, the means of production (locomotives, machin¬ 
ery, and electrical equipment) without which we cannot 
more or less seriously rehabilitate our industry, or perhaps 
may even be unable to do so at all, because the machinery 



needed by our factories cannot be made available. It is with 
the motive of extra profit that we must attract the capital¬ 
ist. He will get surplus profit—well, let him have that 
surplus profit; we shall obtain the fundamentals that will 
help strengthen us; we shall stand firmly on our own feet, 
and shall win in the economic field. We shall have to pay 
up if we want to get the best machinery, etc. What are we 
to pay with? We still dispose of gold reserves totalling 
several millions. You will see from the special plan for the 
electrification of Russia, drawn up for several decades, that 
this plan, together with the additional work for the rehabi¬ 
litation of industry, will involve an approximate expendi¬ 
ture of something like 17,000 million gold rubles. Electri¬ 
fication alone will require the direct expenditure of more 
than 1,000 million rubles in gold. We cannot cover this 
with our gold reserves; it is extremely undesirable and dan¬ 
gerous for us to export foodstuffs because we have not got 
sufficient for our own industry, and yet this need has to be 
met. In this case there is no concession project economi¬ 
cally more suitable for us than the forests of the Far North 
which cover an enormous area, and where the timber is 
rotting away and a total loss because we are economically 
unable to exploit these timber reserves. Timber, however, 
is of tremendous value on the world market. Besides, the 
Far North is also convenient politically because it is an 
outlying border area. This concession is convenient to us 
both politically and economically, and we must make the 
best possible use of it. At the Moscow Conference I have 
told you about, Milyutin said that negotiations with Britain 
about concessions in the north of European Russia are 
progressing. There are several scores of millions of dessia¬ 
tines of standing timber there. If we grant three or five mil¬ 
lion dessiatines disposed chequerwise, we shall get an op¬ 
portunity to derive advantage from up-to-date enterprises, 
an opportunity to learn, by stipulating that our technicians 
take part in the work; we shall thus gain a lot and make it 
difficult for capitalist powers that enter into deals with us 
to take part in military action against us, because war 
cancels everything, and should one break out we shall get 
possession of all the buildings, installations and railways 

20 * 



Any possible action against us by new Kolchaks, Denikins 
and others will not be made the easier. 

The second type is agricultural concessions. With the 
exception of West Siberia with its vast expanses of excel¬ 
lent land, inaccessible to us because of its great distance 
from railways, there are in European Russia and along the 
River Ural alone (our Commissariat of Agriculture has 
taken the necessary steps and has calculated the amount 
of land we cannot cultivate, which is no less than 
3,000,000 dessiatines along the River Ural, abandoned by 
entire Cossack villages as a result of the victorious culmi¬ 
nation of the Civil War) excellent lands that must be 
brought under the plough, but which we cannot cultivate 
because of the shortage of draught animals and our weak¬ 
ened productive forces. 

The state farms of the Don Region have about 800,000 
dessiatines which we cannot cultivate; to cultivate this 
land we shall need a tremendous number of draught ani¬ 
mals or entire tractor columns that we cannot put on the 
fields, while some capitalist countries, including those that 
urgently need foodstuffs—Austria, Germany and Bohemia 
—could put tractors to work and obtain excellent wheat in 
good season. We do not know to what extent we shall be 
able to carry that out. At present we have two tractor plants 
functioning, in Moscow and Petrograd, but in consequence 
of the difficult conditions that obtain they cannot produce 
tractors in large numbers. We could ease the situation by 
purchasing a greater number of tractors. Tractors are the 
most important means of effecting a radical change in the 
old farming methods and of extending the area cultivated. 
By such concessions we shall show a large number of coun¬ 
tries that we are able to develop the world economy on a 
gigantic scale. 

If our propaganda and our proposal do not meet with 
success, and if our proposal is not accepted, we shall still 
reap an advantage that is not only political but socialist 
as well. What is going on in the capitalist world is not only 
a waste of wealth, but madness and a crime, for in some 
countries there is a food surplus that cannot be sold be¬ 
cause of currency revolutions, since money has depreciated 
in a number of countries that have suffered defeat. Huge 



stocks of foodstuffs are rotting away, while tens of millions 
of people in countries like Germany are actually starving. 
This absurdity, this crime of capitalism, is becoming obvi¬ 
ous to all capitalist countries and to the small countries 
that surround Russia. To the capitalist countries the Soviet 
Republic says: “We have hundreds of thousands of dessia¬ 
tines of excellent land that can be ploughed with tractors; 
you have the tractors, the petrol and the trained techni¬ 
cians; we propose to all peoples, including the peoples of 
the capitalist countries, to make the rehabilitation of the 
economy and the salvation of all peoples from hunger their 
main object.” If the capitalists do not understand this, it is 
an argument demonstrating the corruption, madness and 
criminal nature of the capitalist system. That will be of 
more than mere propaganda value: it will be a communist 
call for revolution, for it shows beyond doubt that capital¬ 
ism is falling apart and cannot satisfy the people’s needs, 
a fact that is more and more penetrating into the conscious¬ 
ness of all peoples. An insignificant minority of imperialist 
countries are growing rich, while a large number of other 
countries are actually on the verge of ruin. The world 
economy needs reorganisation, and the Soviet Republic 
comes forward with a plan of reconstruction, with the fol¬ 
lowing incontestable business-like, and realisable proposal: 
“You are starving under capitalism, despite the fabulous 
wealth of machinery. We can solve the crisis by bringing 
together your machinery and our raw materials, but the 
capitalists are in the way. We have proposed to them that 
they should accept our offer, but they are holding back 
and wrecking our plan.” That is the second type of conces¬ 
sion, the agricultural or tractor type. 

Mining concessions are the third type. These are indicat¬ 
ed on the map of Siberia, with details of each area in 
which concessions are being considered. Siberia’s mineral 
wealth is literally boundless, and at best, even given signifi¬ 
cant progress, we cannot exploit even a hundredth part of 
it for many years. The minerals are to be found in condi¬ 
tions that demand the best machinery. There are such prod¬ 
ucts as copper ore, which the capitalists need badly for 
their electrical industry because it is in such short supply. 
It is possible to rehabilitate the world economy and 



improve the world’s technology if they enter into regular 
relations with us. 

It is, of course, more difficult to implement these conces¬ 
sions, i.e., they present greater difficulties than timber or 
agricultural concessions do. As far as agricultural conces¬ 
sions are concerned, it is only a matter of a brief working 
period with tractors being used. Timber concessions are 
also easier, especially as they concern an area we cannot 
avail ourselves of; but mining concessions are frequently 
at no great distance from the railways, frequently in 
densely populated areas. Here the danger is serious and we 
shall weigh the pros and cons very carefully to see whether 
or not they should be granted; we shall do so on definite 
terms, for there is no doubt that concessions are a new kind 
of war. The capitalists are coming to us to wage a new kind 
of war—the very existence of the capitalists is in itself a 
war against the socialist world surrounding them. Capital¬ 
ist enterprises in a socialist state are in the economic sense 
a war for freedom of trade, against the policy of compul¬ 
sory deliveries, a war for private property against a republic 
that has abolished that property. On this economic basis 
there develop a variety of relationships (similar to the hos¬ 
tility between the Sukharevka Market 117 and our institu¬ 
tions). We may be told that we are closing down the Su¬ 
kharevka black market but opening up a number of othet 
“Sukharevkas” by letting the capitalists in. We do not close 
our eyes to this, and say: if we have been victorious till 
now, if we were victorious when our enemies used every 
means to disrupt our enterprises, when there was disrup¬ 
tion from within combined with that from without, then 
we must surely be able to deal with such things, to keep an 
eye on them when they are in certain limited areas and 
there are definite conditions and relations. We have prac¬ 
tical experience of the struggle against military espionage 
and against capitalist sabotage. We fought against them 
when they were under cover in our own institutions; sure¬ 
ly we shall be able to handle them when the capitalists 
have been let in according to a definite list and under 
definite conditions. We know, of course, that they will try to 
break these conditions, and we shall combat such infrac¬ 
tions. But, comrades, concessions on a capitalist foundation 



means war. Until we have overthrown capital in other coun¬ 
tries, and while capital is much stronger than we are, its 
forces can be sent against us at any time and it can start 
another war against us. For this reason we have to make 
ourselves stronger, and to do that we must develop large- 
scale industry and get our transport going. In carrying this 
out, we are taking a risk; here we again have relations of 
warfare, of struggle, and if they try to undermine our pol¬ 
icy, we shall fight them. It would be grossly mistaken to 
think that a peaceful agreement on concessions is a peace¬ 
ful agreement with capitalists. It is an agreement concern¬ 
ing war, but an agreement that is less dangerous to us, 
besides being less burdensome for the workers and peas¬ 
ants, less burdensome than at the time when the best tanks 
and guns were being thrown into action against us; we 
must therefore use all methods, and, at the cost of economic 
concessions, develop our economic forces and facilitate our 
economic rehabilitation. The capitalists will, of course, not 
honour their agreements, say comrades who are afraid of 
concessions. It is quite impossible, of course, to be sure 
that the capitalists will honour agreements. It will be a war, 
and war is the ultimate argument, which in general remains 
an argument entering the relations of the socialist republic. 

War threatens us at any hour. We are conducting peace 
negotiations with Poland, and there is every chance that 
peace will be concluded, or at least, to be more exact, the 
vast majority of chances are that peace will be concluded. 
There is no doubt, however, that the Savinkovs and the 
French capitalists are working to prevent the treaty from 
being signed. To the capitalists war is possible tomorrow 
if not today, and they would willingly start a war today if 
they had not learnt something from three years’ experience. 
Concessions constitute a certain risk; they are a loss; they 
are the continuation of war. There is no doubt of this, but 
it is a war that is more to our advantage. When we have 
obtained a certain minimum of the means of production, 
locomotives and machines, then we shall be different, in 
the economic sense, from what we have been till now, and 
the imperialist countries will be still less dangerous to us. 

We have been told that the concessionaires will create 
exclusive conditions for their workers, and supply them 



with better clothes, better footwear, and better food. That 
will be their propaganda among our workers, who are suf¬ 
fering privation and will have to suffer privation for a 
long time to come. We shall then have a socialist republic 
in which the workers are poverty-stricken and next to it 
a capitalist island, in which the workers get an excellent 
livelihood. This apprehension is frequently voiced at our 
Party meetings. Of course, there is a danger of that kind, 
and it shows that concessions are a continuation of war 
and do not constitute peace. We have, however, experienced 
far greater deprivations and have seen that workers 
from capitalist countries nevertheless come to our country, 
knowing that the economic conditions awaiting them in 
Russia are far worse; surely, then, we ought to be able to 
defend ourselves against such propaganda with counter¬ 
propaganda; surely we should be able to show the workers 
that capitalism can, of course, provide better conditions for 
certain groups of its workers, but that this does not im¬ 
prove the conditions of the rest of the workers. And lastly, 
why is it that at every contact with bourgeois Europe and 
America we, not they, have always won? Why is it that 
to this day it is they who fear to send delegations to us, 
and not we to them? To this day we have always managed 
to win over to our side at least a small part of the delega¬ 
tions, despite the fact that such delegations consisted in the 
main of Menshevik elements, and that they were people 
who came to us for short periods. Should we be afraid of 
being unable to explain the truth to the workers?! We 
should be in a bad way if we had such fears, if we were to 
place such considerations above the direct interest which 
is a matter of the greatest significance as far as concessions 
are concerned. The position of our peasants and workers 
remains a difficult one. It must be improved. We cannot 
have any doubt on that score. I think we shall agree that 
the concessions policy is a policy of continuation of the 
war, but we must also agree that it is our task to ensure 
the continued existence of an isolated socialist republic 
surrounded by capitalist enemies, to preserve a republic 
that is infinitely weaker than the capitalist enemies sur¬ 
rounding it, thereby eliminating any possibility of our ene¬ 
mies forming an alliance among themselves for the struggle 



against us, and to hamper their policies and not give them 
an opportunity to win a victory. It is our task to secure 
for Russia the necessary machinery and funds for the resto¬ 
ration of the economy; when we have obtained that, we 
shall stand so firmly on our own feet that no capitalist 
enemies can overawe us. That is the point of view which 
has guided us in our policy on concessions, the policy I 
have outlined. 

First published in 1930 

Collected Works, Vol. 31, 





You all know, of course, how the Polish landowners and 
capitalists forced a war on us under the pressure and at the 
insistence of the capitalist countries of Western Europe, 
and not of Western Europe alone. You know that in April 
of this year we made peace proposals to the Polish Govern¬ 
ment, on terms which were incomparably more advanta¬ 
geous to it than the present terms, and that it was only 
under pressure of dire necessity, after our negotiations for 
an armistice with Poland had ended in a complete break¬ 
down, that we were obliged to fight. Despite the heavy 
defeat our forces suffered near Warsaw, as a result of their 
undoubted exhaustion, this war has ended in a peace that 
is far more favourable to us than the one we proposed to 
Poland in April. A preliminary treaty with Poland has been 
signed, and negotiations are now under way for the con¬ 
clusion of a final peace treaty. We certainly do not conceal 
from ourselves the danger presented by the pressure being 
exerted by some of the more stubborn capitalist countries 
and by certain Russian whiteguard circles with the aim of 
preventing these negotiations from ending in a peace. It 
should, however, be said that the Entente’s policy, which 
aims at military intervention and the armed suppression of 



the Soviets, is steadily coming to nought, and that we are 
winning over to our policy of peace a steadily increasing 
number of states which are undoubtedly hostile towards 
the Soviets. The number of countries that have signed peace 
treaties is increasing, and there is every probability that a 
final peace treaty with Poland will be signed in the imme¬ 
diate future. Thus, another severe blow will be struck 
at the alliance of the capitalist forces which are trying 
to wrench the power of government from us by means 
of war. 

Comrades, you also know, of course, that the temporary 
setbacks we suffered in the war with Poland and the dif¬ 
ficulty of our position at certain moments of the war were 
due to our being obliged to fight Wrangel, who was offi¬ 
cially recognised by one imperialist power, 118 and received 
vast material, military and other aid. To end the war as 
quickly as possible, we had to effect a rapid concentration 
of troops so as to strike a decisive blow at Wrangel. You, 
of course, know what dauntless heroism was displayed by 
the Red Army in surmounting obstacles and fortifications 
which even military experts and military authorities con¬ 
sidered impregnable. The complete, decisive and remark¬ 
ably swift victory the Red Army gained over Wrangel is 
one of the most brilliant pages in its history. That was how 
the war forced on us by the whiteguards and the imperial¬ 
ists ended. 

It is with far greater assurance and determination that 
we can now set about a task that is dear to us, an essential 
task, one that has long been attracting us—that of econom¬ 
ic development. We can do so with the assurance that the 
capitalist tycoons will not find it as easy to frustrate this 
work as in the past. Of course, we must be on our guard. In 
no case can we say that we are already guaranteed against 
war. It is not because of the absence of formal peace 
treaties that we are still without that guarantee. We are 
very well aware that the remnants of Wrangel’s army have 
not been destroyed, that they are lying low close at hand, 
that they are under ward and tutelage, and are being re¬ 
formed with the aid of the capitalist powers. We know that 
the whiteguard Russian organisations are working actively 
to re-create certain military units and, together with 



Wrangel’s forces, to prepare them for a new onslaught on 
Russia at a favourable moment. 

That is why we must maintain our military preparedness 
under all circumstances. Irrespective of the blows already 
struck at imperialism, we must keep our Red Army in a 
state of combat readiness at all costs, and increase its 
fighting efficiency. The release of a certain section of the 
army and its rapid demobilisation does not, of course, mili¬ 
tate against this. We rely on the tremendous experience 
gained by the Red Army and its leaders during the war 
to enable us now to improve its quality. And we shall see 
to it that although the army is reduced we shall retain a 
cadre whose maintenance will not entail an undue burden 
on the Republic, while at the same time, with the reduc¬ 
tion in the number of effectives, we shall be in a better 
position than before, in case of need, to mobilise and equip 
a still larger military force. 

We are certain that all the neighbouring states, which 
have already lost a great‘deal by supporting the whiteguard 
conspiracies against us, have learnt the hard lesson of ex¬ 
perience and have duly appreciated our conciliatory spirit, 
which was generally considered as weakness on our part. 
Three years of experience have no doubt shown them that, 
while we are persistently striving for peace, we are pre¬ 
pared from the military point of view. Any attempt to start 
a war against us will mean, to the states involved, that the 
terms they will get following such a war will be worse than 
those they could have obtained without a war or prior to 
it. This has been proved in respect of several countries. 
This is an achievement we shall not forego, one that will 
not be forgotten by any of the powers surrounding us or 
in political contact with Russia. Thanks to this, our rela¬ 
tions with neighbouring countries are steadily improving. 
You know that a final peace has been signed with a number 
of states bordering on the Western frontiers of Russia. 
These were part of the former Russian Empire, and the 
Soviet government has unequivocally recognised their in¬ 
dependence and sovereignty, in conformity with the funda¬ 
mental principles of our policy. Peace on such a basis has 
every chance of being far more durable than is to the liking 
of the capitalists and certain West-European states. 


As regards the Latvian Government, I must say that at 
one time there was a danger of our relations becoming 
strained, so much so that the idea even arose of severing 
diplomatic relations. But the latest report from our repre¬ 
sentative in Latvia indicates that a change of policy has 
already taken place, and that many misunderstandings and 
legitimate causes of dissatisfaction have been removed. 
There is good reason to hope that in the near future we 
shall have close economic ties with Latvia, which will 
naturally be even more useful to us in our trade with West¬ 
ern Europe than Estonia and the other states bordering on 
the R.S.F.S.R. 

I must also say, comrades, that during this year our 
policy in the East has been very successful. We must wel¬ 
come the formation and consolidation of the Soviet Re¬ 
publics of Bukhara, Azerbaijan and Armenia, 119 which have 
not only recovered their complete independence, but have 
placed the power of government in the hands of the work¬ 
ers and peasants. These republics are proof and corrobora¬ 
tion of the fact that the ideas and principles of Soviet 
government are understood and immediately applicable, 
not only in the industrially developed countries, not only 
in those which have a social basis like the proletariat, but 
also in those which have the peasantry as their basis. The 
idea of peasants’ Soviets has triumphed. The peasants’ 
power has been assured: they own the land and the means 
of production. The friendly relations between the peasant 
Soviet Republics and the Russian Socialist Republic have 
already been consolidated by the practical results of our 

We can also welcome the forthcoming signing of a treaty 
with Persia, friendly relations with whom are assured by 
the fact that the fundamental interests of all peoples suf¬ 
fering from the yoke of imperialism coincide. 

We must also note that friendly relations with Afghan¬ 
istan, and still more so with Turkey, are being steadily 
established and strengthened. As for the latter power, the 
Entente countries have done everything they could to ren¬ 
der impossible any more or less normal relations between 
her and the West-European countries. This circumstance, 
coupled with consolidation of the Soviets, is steadily 



strengthening the alliance and the friendly relations between 
Russia and the oppressed nations of the East, despite the 
bourgeoisie’s resistance and intrigues and the continuing 
encirclement of Russia by bourgeois countries. The chief 
factor in politics today is the violence being used by the 
imperialists against peoples which have not had the good 
fortune to be among the victors; this world policy of im¬ 
perialism is leading to closer relations, alliance and friend¬ 
ship among all the oppressed nations. The success we have 
achieved in this respect in the West as well, in relation to 
more Europeanised states, goes to show that the present 
principles of our foreign policy are correct and that the 
improvement in our international position rests on a firm 
basis. We are confident that, by continuing our peace policy 
and by making concessions (and we must do so if we wish 
to avoid war), the basic line of our policy and the funda¬ 
mental interests which stem from the very nature of im¬ 
perialist policy will come into their own and will make it 
more and more imperative for the R.S.F.S.R. to establish 
closer relations with a growing number of neighbouring 
states, despite the intrigues and machinations of the im¬ 
perialists, who, of course, are always capable of provoking 
a quarrel between us and some other state. Such relations 
are our guarantee that we shall be able to devote ourselves 
wholeheartedly to economic development and that we shall 
be able, for a longer period, to work calmly, steadfastly and 

I must add that negotiations for the conclusion of a trade 
agreement with Great Britain are now under way. Unfor¬ 
tunately, these negotiations' have been dragging out much 
longer than we would wish, but we are not at all to blame 
for that. When, as far back as July—at the moment the 
Soviet troops were achieving their greatest successes—the 
British Government officially submitted to us the text of an 
agreement assuring the establishment of trade relations, we 
replied by giving our full consent, but since then the conflict 
of the various trends within the British Government, and 
the British state has held this up. We see how the British 
Government is vacillating, and is threatening to sever rela¬ 
tions with us and immediately to dispatch warships to 
Petrograd. We have seen all this, but at the same time we 



have seen that, in reply to this threat, Councils of Action 
have sprung up all over Great Britain. We have seen how, 
under pressure from the workers, the most extreme adher¬ 
ents of the opportunist trend and their leaders have been 
obliged to resort to this quite “unconstitutional” policy, one 
that they had themselves condemned a short while before. 
It appears that, despite the Menshevik prejudices which 
have hitherto prevailed in the British trade union move¬ 
ment, the pressure brought to bear by the working people 
and their political consciousness have become strong 
enough to blunt the edge of the imperialists’ bellicose 
policy. Continuing our policy of peace, we have taken our 
stand on the proposals made by the British Government in 
July. We are prepared to sign a trade agreement at once; 
if it has not yet been signed, the blame rests wholly with 
those trends and tendencies in British ruling circles that 
are anxious to frustrate the trade agreement and, against 
the will of the majority, not only of the workers but even 
of the British bourgeoisie, want a free hand to attack Soviet 
Russia again. That is their affair. 

The longer this policy is pursued by certain influential 
circles in Great Britain, by financial and imperialist circles 
there, the more it will aggravate the financial situation, the 
longer it will delay the semi-agreement which has now 
become essential between bourgeois Britain and the Soviet 
Republic, and the nearer it will bring the imperialists to a 
situation that will oblige them to accept a full agreement, 
not merely a semi-agreement. 

Comrades, I must say that this trade agreement with 
Great Britain is connected with one of the most important 
questions in our economic policy, that of concessions. One 
of the important acts passed by the Soviet government 
during the period under review is the law on concessions 
of November 23, this year. You are, of course, all familiar 
with the text of this law. You all know that we have now 
published additional material, from which delegates to the 
Congress of Soviets can obtain full information on this 
question. We have published a special pamphlet contain¬ 
ing, not only the text of the decree but also a list of the 
chief-Concessions we are offering: agricultural, timber and 
mining. We have taken steps to make the published text 



of this decree available in the West-European countries as 
early as possible, and we hope that our concessions policy 
will also be a practical success. We do not in the least close 
our eyes to the dangers this policy presents to the Socialist 
Soviet Republic, a country that, moreover, is weak and 
backward. While our Soviet Republic remains the isolated 
borderland of the capitalist world, it would be absolutely 
ridiculous, fantastic and utopian to hope that we can achieve 
complete economic independence and that all dangers 
will vanish. Of course, as long as the radical contrasts 
remain, the dangers will also remain, and there is no escap¬ 
ing them. What we have to do is to get firmly on our feet 
in order to survive these dangers; we must be able to dis¬ 
tinguish between big dangers and little dangers, and incur 
the lesser dangers rather than the greater. 

We were recently informed that, at a Congress of Soviets 
of Arzamas Uyezd in Nizhni-Novgorod Gubernia, a peasant, 
not a member of the Party, said on the subject of conces¬ 
sions: “Comrades, we are delegating you to the All-Russia 
Congress and declare that we peasants are prepared to 
endure hunger and cold and do our duty for another three 
years, but don’t sell Mother Russia in the form of conces¬ 
sions.” I heartily welcome such sentiments, which are very 
widespread. I think it is highly indicative that during these 
three years the masses of non-Party working people—not 
only industrial workers but peasants as well—have acquired 
the political and economic experience which enables and 
compels them to value their liberation from the capitalists 
above all else, which compels them to exercise redoubled 
caution and to treat with extreme suspicion every step that 
involves the possibility of new dangers of the restoration 
of capitalism. Of course, we give the greatest consideration 
to all declarations of this kind, but we must say that there 
is no question of selling out Russia to the capitalists. It is 
a question of concessions; any concessions agreement is 
limited to a definite period and by definite terms. It is 
hedged around with all possible guarantees, by guarantees 
that have been carefully considered and will be considered 
and discussed with you again and again, at the present 
Congress and at various other conferences. These tempo¬ 
rary agreements have nothing to do with any selling out. 



There is not a hint in them of selling Russia. What they 
do represent is a certain economic concession to the capital¬ 
ists, the purpose of which is to enable us, as soon as pos¬ 
sible, to secure the necessary machinery and locomotives 
without which we cannot effect the restoration of our 
economy. We have no right to neglect anything that may, 
in however small a measure, help us to improve the con¬ 
ditions of the workers and peasants. 

We must do all we possibly can to bring about the rapid 
restoration of trade relations, and negotiations are at pres¬ 
ent being carried on in a semi-legal framework. We are 
ordering locomotives and machines in far from adequate 
numbers, but we have begun to order them. When we 
conduct these negotiations officially, the possibilities will 
be vastly expanded. With the aid of industry we shall 
achieve a great deal, and in a shorter period; but even if 
the achievements are very great, the period will cover years, 
a number of years. It must be borne in mind that although 
we have now gained a military victory and have secured 
peace, history teaches us that no big question has ever 
been settled, and no revolution accomplished, without a 
series of wars. And we shall not forget this lesson. We have 
already taught a number of powerful countries not to wage 
war on us, but we cannot guarantee that this will be for 
long. The imperialist predators will attack us again if there 
is the slightest change in the situation. We must be prepared 
for it. Hence, the first thing is to restore the economy and 
place it firmly on its feet. Without equipment, without ma¬ 
chinery obtained from capitalist countries, we cannot do 
this rapidly. And we should not grudge the capitalist a little 
extra profit if only we can effect this restoration. The work¬ 
ers and peasants must share the sentiments of those non- 
Party peasants who have declared that they are not afraid 
to face sacrifice and privation. Realising the danger of 
capitalist intervention, they do not regard concessions from 
a sentimental point of view, but as a continuation of the 
war, as the transfer of the ruthless struggle to another 
plane; they see in them the possibility of fresh attempts 
on the part of the bourgeoisie to restore the old capitalism. 
That is splendid; it is a guarantee that not only the organs 
of Soviet power but all the workers and peasants will make 



it their business to keep watch and ward over our interests. 
We are, therefore, confident that we shall be able to place 
the protection of our interests on such a basis that the 
restoration of the power of the capitalists will be totally 
out of the question even in carrying out the concessions 
agreements; we shall do everything to reduce the danger to 
a minimum, and make it less than the danger of war, so 
that it will be difficult to resume the war and easier for us 
to restore and develop our economy in a shorter period, in 
fewer years (and it is a matter of a good many years). 

Published in 1921 in the book 
The Eighth All-Russia Congress 
of Soviets. Verbatim Report 

Collected Works , Vol. 31, 
pp. 487-95 



FEBRUARY 6, 1921 120 

Comrades, it gives me great pleasure to greet your Con¬ 
gress on behalf of the Central Committee of our Party and 
of the Council of People’s Commissars. What gives me even 
greater pleasure is your unanimous decision of yesterday, 
following the happy reconciliation and successful resolu¬ 
tion of the conflict and the friction among you, which re¬ 
quired such strenuous efforts from all, and some from our 
Party as well. I am sure, comrades, that this slight clash 
and its successful settlement will be an earnest that in your 
future work, as members of the union and of the Party, 
you will be able to solve all the numerous difficulties and 
problems that still lie ahead of us. 

Comrades, speaking of the position of our Republic in 
general—of the internal and external position of the Soviet 
power—the greatest difficulties that confronted us were, 
of course, those of our external positions. The greatest dif¬ 
ficulties of the entire proletarian revolution in Russia arose 
from our having had to take the initiative in the socialist 
revolution due to the course of the imperialist war and the 
preceding development of the first revolution in 1905; this 
imposed unprecedented difficulties on us, and on our coun¬ 
try. You all know, of course—I think that in your branch 
of industry this is more evident to you than to the workers 
of other industries—you all know to what extent capital 




is an international force, to what extent all the big capital¬ 
ist enterprises, factories, shops, etc., all over the world are 
linked up together; this makes it obvious that in substance 
capital cannot be completely defeated in one country. It is 
an international force, and in order to rout it the workers 
must also make a concerted effort on an international scale. 
Ever since 1917, when we fought the bourgeois-republican 
governments in Russia, and ever since the power of the 
Soviets was established at the end of 1917, we have been 
telling the workers again and again that the cardinal task, 
and the fundamental condition of our victory is to spread 
the revolution to, at least, a few of the most advanced 
countries. And our main difficulties over the past four years 
have been due to the fact that the West European capital¬ 
ists managed to bring the war to an end and stave off 

We in Russia had particularly striking evidence of the 
extremely precarious position of the bourgeoisie during the 
imperialist war. We also heard that in all other countries 
it was the end of the war that marked the intensification 
of the political crisis, for then the people were armed and 
it was an opportune moment for the proletariat to have 
done with the capitalists at one stroke. For a number of 
reasons the West European workers failed to do this, and 
for nearly four years now we have had to defend our posi¬ 
tions single-handed. 

As a consequence, the difficulties that fell to the lot of 
the Soviet Republic of Russia were without number, be¬ 
cause the military forces of the capitalists of the whole 
world (vastly superior to our own, of course) did all they 
possibly could to help our landowners. We know full well 
of the incredible hardships and privations the working class 
of Russia has had to bear, but if we are emerging today 
from more than three years of successfully repulsing their 
military invasions and overcoming their obstructions, we 
have a perfect right to say without any exaggeration that 
the worst of our difficulties are behind us. If in spite of 
their overwhelming military superiority, the capitalists of 
the world have failed to crush this weak and backward 
country in the course of three years, it was only because 
we have had the dictatorship of the proletariat and enjoyed 



the massive sympathy of the working people all over the 
world, we can safely say, in every country without excep¬ 
tion. And if the capitalists of the whole world have failed 
in their attempt to crush Soviet Russia, which was not a 
hard task for them because of their enormous military 
superiority, we can say, I repeat, that in the international 
sphere, the greatest danger-point of the whole Soviet revo¬ 
lution is past, the worst difficulties are over. 

The danger is still there, of course; the negotiations for 
final peace are still dragging on and there are signs that a 
rather difficult period in these negotiations is setting in, for 
the French imperialists, in particular, are pressing on with 
their efforts to push Poland into another war, and are 
spreading all sorts of false rumours about Soviet Russia 
not wanting peace. 

Actually, we have done everything to prove that we do; 
we signed the provisional terms several months ago, and 
they were such that everyone was surprised by our spirit 
of compromise. We are not going back on any point of 
these terms, but we shall certainly refuse to be soaked 
under the pretext of a division of the property which under 
tsarism had belonged to the Polish and to the Russian peo¬ 
ple, which at the time both groaned under the yoke of 
tsarism. That is something we cannot have. We accept a 
fair division of the property, which is to be regarded as 
common, and a part of the railway property, and consider 
as indisputable the need to restore to the Polish people all 
objects of cultural value to which they attach especial im¬ 
portance, and which had been stolen and carried off to 
Russia in the days of the tsar. We have always anticipated 
that difficult problems would arise in the settlement of this 
matter; but if under the pressure of the French imperialists 
the Poles want to create a conflict and sabotage peace at 
all costs, there is nothing we can do about it. If there is to 
be peace, good will must be shown on both sides, whether 
in the case of a very serious conflict within a separate 
alliance or between two states. If the Poles once again yield 
to the pressure of the French imperialists, then, I repeat, 
the effort to conclude peace may be frustrated. You are 
well aware, of course, what new difficulties will confront 
us if the French imperialists succeed in sabotaging this 



peace; and we all know from a number of sources and re¬ 
ports that attempts are being made and enormous efforts 
are being exerted to this end, and that the foreign capital¬ 
ists are spending millions upon millions to organise another 
invasion of Soviet Russia in the spring. We now have over 
three years’ experience of the way these invasions are 
organised. We know that unless they have the aid of a 
neighbouring state, the foreign capitalists cannot hope to 
organise anything like a serious expedition, and the mil¬ 
lions they have been handing out to the various groups 
headed by Savinkov, or to the group of Socialist-Revolu¬ 
tionaries who are publishing their newspaper in Prague 
and sometimes speak in the name of the Constituent 
Assembly, these millions will go down the drain, and 
they will have nothing to show for it but a lot of spoiled 
newsprint and wasted ink in various printing offices 
in Prague. 

But there are countries like Rumania, which has not 
tried to fight Russia, and Poland, which is ruled by an ex¬ 
ploiting class and a military clique of adventurers. We know 
that they cannot muster large forces against us, but we also 
know that what we prize most is peace and an opportunity 
to devote all our efforts to restoring our economy. So we 
must be extremely careful. We have the right to tell our¬ 
selves that the wo^st difficulties in international politics are 
behind us, but it would be extremely thoughtless to shut 
our eyes to the possibility of fresh attempts. Of course, now 
that we have eliminated the Wrangel front, and Rumania 
had not risked war when the odds were on her side, it is 
hardly likely that she will risk it now; but we must not 
forget that the ruling classes in Rumania and Poland are 
in a position which may be said to be bordering on the 
desperate. Both countries have been sold to foreign capital¬ 
ists lock, stock, and barrel. Both are up to their ears in 
debt, and have no means of paying up. Their bankruptcy 
is inevitable. The revolutionary movement of the workers 
and peasants is growing steadily. Bourgeois governments 
in such straits have been known to rush headlong into the 
craziest adventures, for which there was no other explana¬ 
tion but their desperate and hopeless situation. That is why 


we must still reckon with the possibility of fresh attempts 
at armed invasion. 

Our conviction that these attempts will be frustrated, 
and that the position of the capitalist powers all over the 
world is, generally speaking, precarious, springs chiefly 
from the mounting economic crisis in all countries, and the 
growth of the communist working-class movement. In Eu¬ 
rope, the revolution has not been following the same lines 
as ours. As I have said, the workers and peasants of the 
West European countries, who were in arms when the war 
ended, failed to strike in a swift revolution that would have 
been the least painful. The imperialist war, however, had 
so shaken the position of these states that not only has the 
economic crisis there not yet run its course, but there are 
signs that in every country without exception, even in the 
richest and most advanced, it will become even more acute 
next spring. Capital is an international evil, and just be¬ 
cause of this all countries find themselves so grappled to 
each other that when some go down they tend to drag down 
the rest. 

The rich countries have naturally waxed richer: during 
the war their capitalists piled up huge profits. But in the 
overwhelming majority of the European countries, trade 
has been dislocated and disrupted owing to the complete 
devastation not only of Russia, but even of Germany, and 
owing to the depression and the currency depreciation. The 
richest countries are suffocating, being unable to sell their 
industrial goods because of the depreciating currency, un¬ 
employment is growing to incredible proportions every¬ 
where, and an unprecedented economic crisis is looming 
all over the world. 

Meanwhile, the working class—which its capitalists had 
bribed by giving sizable hand-outs from their profits to the 
upper strata of the working class to entice it away from 
the revolution—is recovering from its blindness after the 
three-and a-half-year war against Soviet Russia, while the 
communist movement is growing steadily and taking on 
depth not only in the parties, but also in the trade unions 
all over the world, although not as fast as we should like. 
The ruling classes all over the world are particularly ap¬ 
prehensive of the changes that are taking place in the trade 



union movement. In Europe, they are not afraid of the 
prospect of facing a party that could lead the revolution¬ 
ary proletariat, as was the case in the Russian revolution, 
when in the course of a few months, no, weeks, the Party 
was transformed from an illegal one into one commanding 
nation-wide forces, and backed by millions of people. Eu¬ 
rope has not had such a party for years. But every capital¬ 
ist sees the trade unions, and knows that they unite mil¬ 
lions of workers and that the machinery of capitalism is 
bound to break down, unless the capitalists control them 
through the leaders who call themselves socialists but pur¬ 
sue the policy of the capitalists. This they know, feel and 
sense. The most telltale fact, for instance, was that in Ger¬ 
many the whole bourgeois press and the whole press of 
the social-traitors meeting in the Second International and 
calling themselves socialists, but loyally serving the capital¬ 
ists, was whipped into a frenzy not so much because of 
Zinoviev’s visit to Germany, as of that of the Russian trade 
unionists, for no one has stirred up the German trade unions 
to such an extent as they did on their first short visit to 
that country. This savage fury of the German bourgeois 
press and all the Communist-hating capitalists shows how 
precarious their position is. An international, world-wide 
struggle has flared up for influence with the trade unions, 
with millions of members in all civilised countries, for on 
them depends this inner work, which is not always readily 
perceptible. The inexorable growth of the economic crisis 
is deciding the fate of the capitalist countries. 

The attempted coup by the German monarchist party 
was thwarted by the resistance of the German trade unions, 
when the workers who had followed Scheidemann and the 
murderers of Liebknecht and Luxemburg rose and crushed 
the military forces. As the economic crisis gains momen¬ 
tum, we find the same thing happening in Great Britain, 
and to a large extent in America as well. That is why it is 
the international situation that gives us most hope and 
conviction that the internal situation in the capitalist coun¬ 
tries tends to sap all of their strength, and that our inter¬ 
national position, which was difficult yesterday and remains 
such today, despite our great successes, will undoubtedly 
improve, and that we shall be able to devote all our efforts 



to solving our internal tasks. I shall not enlarge on these 
tasks, because all of you who are engaged in industry are 
more familiar with the tasks of construction than I am, 
and it would be superfluous for me to deal with them at 

First published in 1922 in the book: Collected Works, Vol. 32, 

Chetvyorty vserossiiski syezd rabochikh pp. 112-17 

shveinoi promyshlennosti. 

Stenograficheski otchot 
(The Fourth All-Russia Congress of 
Garment Workers, 

February 1-6, 1921. 

Verbatim Report ), Petrograd 



FEBRUARY 28, 1921 121 

Before going on to the domestic situation—a subject 
which, quite naturally, arouses great interest and much 
concern—let me run over the salient international develop¬ 
ments. To be brief, I shall deal with only three. The first is 
our conference with Turkish delegates which has opened 
here in Moscow . 122 This is an especially welcome fact, be¬ 
cause there had been many obstacles to direct negotiations 
with the Turkish Government delegation, and now that 
there is an opportunity of reaching an understanding here 
in Moscow, we feel sure that a firm foundation will be laid 
for closer relations and friendship. Of course, this will not 
be achieved through diplomatic machinations (in which, 
we are not afraid to admit, our adversaries have the edge 
on us), but through the fact that over the past few years 
both nations have had to endure untold suffering at the 
hands of the imperialist powers. A previous speaker referred 
to the harm of isolation from the imperialist countries. 
But when a wolf attacks a sheep, there is hardly any point 
in advising the sheep to avoid isolation from the wolf 
( Laughter, applause.) Up to now, the Eastern peoples may 
have been like sheep before the imperialist wolf, but Soviet 
Russia was the first to show that, despite her unparalleled 
military weakness, it is not so easy for the wolf to get his 
claws and teeth into her. This example has proved to be 
catching for many nations, regardless of whether or not 



they sympathise with the “Bolshevik rumour-mongers”. We 
are a popular topic all over the world, and, in relation to 
Turkey, have even been described as malicious rumour- 
mongers. Of course, we have so far been unable to do any¬ 
thing in this sphere, but the Turkish workers and peasants 
have demonstrated that the resistance on the part of mod¬ 
ern nations to plunder is a thing that has to be reckoned 
with: Turkey herself resisted plunder by the imperialist 
governments with such vigour that even the strongest of 
them have had to keep their hands off her. That is what 
makes us regard the current negotiations with the Turkish 
Government as a very great achievement. We have no hid¬ 
den motives. We know that these negotiations will proceed 
within a very modest framework, but they are important 
because the workers and peasants of all countries are draw¬ 
ing steadily closer together, despite all the formidable 
obstructions. This is something we should bear in mind 
when assessing our present difficulties. 

The second thing worth recalling in connection with the 
international situation is the state of the peace talks in 
Riga. You know that in order to conclude a peace with any 
degree of stability we have been making the greatest pos¬ 
sible concessions to all the states formerly within the Rus¬ 
sian Empire. This is very natural because national oppres¬ 
sion is one of the main factors which arouses hatred for 
the imperialists and unites the peoples against them, and 
few states in the world have sinned as much in this respect 
as the old Russian Empire and the bourgeois republic of 
Kerensky, the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries in 
alliance with the bourgeoisie. That is why it is in respect 
of these nations that we have shown the greatest willing¬ 
ness to make concessions and readiness to accept such 
peace terms, for which some Socialist-Revolutionaries have 
virtually called us Tolstoyans. We don’t care, because we 
have to show the greatest willingness to compromise with 
these nations, to dispel the age-old suspicions generated by 
the old oppression, and to lay the foundation for a union of 
workers and peasants of various nations which once suf¬ 
fered together at the hands of tsarism and the Russian 
landowners, and now suffer at the hands of imperialism. 
In respect of Poland, this policy has been largely frustrated 



by the Russian whiteguards, Socialist-Revolutionaries and 
Mensheviks, who enjoy “freedom of the press”, “freedom 
of speech” and other wonderful “freedoms”, alongside the 
extraordinary freedom of the French and other capitalists 
to buy up a larger part of Poland, where they are at liberty 
to spread their propaganda in an effort to push Poland 
into a war against us. The capitalists are now doing their 
utmost to disrupt the peace that has been concluded. One 
of the reasons why we cannot demobilise our army, as we 
should like to do, is that we must reckon with the possibil¬ 
ity of war on a much larger scale than some people imagine. 
Those who say that we need not put so much into defence 
are wrong, because our enemies are resorting to all sorts 
of machinations and intrigues to break up the final peace 
with Poland, the provisional terms of which have already 
been signed. These negotiations have lately been dragging 
on, and although a few weeks ago things had come to such 
a pass that there was reason to fear a serious crisis, we 
recently decided to make some further concessions, not 
because we thought they were warranted, but because we 
considered it necessary to thwart the intrigues of the Rus¬ 
sian whiteguards, Socialist-Revolutionaries and Menshe¬ 
viks in Warsaw, and of the Entente imperialists, who are 
making the greatest efforts to prevent peace. It has not yet 
been signed, but let me say that we have every reason to 
be optimistic: it will be signed in the near future, and we 
shall succeed in thwarting the intrigues against its conclu¬ 
sion. Although this is only guesswork on my part, I believe 
the prospect will gladden us all. But let us not count our 
chickens before they are hatched. That is why we shall 
not slacken or weaken our military effort however slightly, 
but we shall not be afraid to make a few more concessions 
to bourgeois Poland, so as to wrest the workers and peas¬ 
ants of Poland from the Entente and prove to them that 
the workers’ and peasants’ government does not deal in 
national strife. We shall defend this peace even at the price 
of considerable sacrifice. 

The third international question is the events in the 
Caucasus. There have been large-scale developments there 
recently, and although we do not yet know the details their 
implication is that we are on the brink of a major war. 



We were, of course, disturbed at the clash between Arme¬ 
nia and Georgia, for these events turned the Armenian- 
Georgian war into an insurrection, with a section of the 
Russian troops taking part. The upshot of all this was that, 
for the time being, the tables have been turned on the 
Armenian bourgeoisie, which had been scheming against us, 
so that, according to the latest but still unconfirmed reports, 
Soviet power has been established in Tiflis . 123 (Applause.) 
We know that the insurrection began in the neutral zone 
of Armenia, which lies between Georgia and Armenia, and 
which Georgia had occupied with the consent of the En¬ 
tente imperialists. When the Mensheviks, particularly the 
Georgian Mensheviks, speak of the harm of isolation from 
the Western powers, they usually mean the reliance on the 
Entente imperialists, who are stronger than anyone else. 
But some whiteguards tend to forget that the advanced 
capitalists are more deceitful than anyone else, and say 
to themselves: can Armenia, the Arrpenian peasants, etc., 
or the ravaged Soviet Republic be compared to the united 
imperialist powers of the world? Let us turn to the ad¬ 
vanced capitalists for they are the civilised forces of the 
world. That is how the Georgian Mensheviks seek to justify 
their unseemly defence of the capitalists, and they had 
control of the only railway line, the Armenian peasants’ 
food supply line. 

No one will have the patience to read all the telegrams, 
statements and protests we exchanged with Georgia on this 
question. If we had had a peace treaty with Georgia, our 
policy would have been to procrastinate as long as pos¬ 
sible. You must understand, however, that the Armenian 
peasants did not view the treaty question in that light, and 
things culminated in the terrible insurrection which broke 
out in early February and spread with astonishing rapidity, 
involving not only Armenians, but also Georgians. There 
has been hardly any news from over there, but our assump¬ 
tions have been borne out by the latest available report. 
We know perfectly well that the Georgian bourgeoisie and 
the Georgian Mensheviks do not rely for support on their 
working people, but on their capitalists, who are only look¬ 
ing for a pretext to start hostilities. Upon the other hand, 
we have had our stake on the working people for three 



years and we shall continue to have it on them to the last 
even in this backward and oppressed country. With all our 
circumspection and all our efforts to strengthen the Red 
Army, we shall ultimately do everything possible to put 
out the flames in the Caucasus. We shall demonstrate in 
the East what we have been able to demonstrate in the 
West: when Soviet power is in, national oppression is out. 
On this, in the final analysis, depends the outcome of the 
struggle, and because of their superior numbers the work¬ 
ers and peasants will ultimately prove to be stronger than 
the capitalists. 

Pravda No. 46, 
March 2, 1921 

Collected Worifcs, Vol. 32, 
pp. 147-51 



MARCH 8-16, 1921 




Assistance is on its way from the West-European coun¬ 
tries but it is not coming quickly enough. Still it is coming 
and growing. 

I pointed out this morning that one of the most important 
factors of the period under review, one closely related to 
the work of the Central Committee, is the organisation of 
the Second Congress of the Comintern. Of course, com¬ 
pared with last year, the world revolution has made consid¬ 
erable headway. Of course, the Communist International, 
which at the time of last year’s Congress existed only in 
the form of proclamations, has now begun to function as 
an independent party in each country, and not merely as 
an advanced party—communism has become central to the 
working-class movement as a whole. In Germany, France 
and Italy the Communist International has become not only 
the centre of the working-class movement, but also the focus 
of political life in these countries. Any German or French 
newspaper you picked up last autumn contained abuse of 
Moscow and the Bolsheviks, who were called all sorts of 
names; in fact, the Bolsheviks and the 21 conditions for 
admission to the Third International 125 were made the cen¬ 
tral issue of their entire political life. That is an achieve¬ 
ment no one can take away from us! It shows how the 
world revolution is growing and how it is paralleled by the 
aggravation of the economic crisis in Europe. But in any 
case, it would be madness on our part to assume that help 
will shortly arrive from Europe in the shape of a strong 
proletarian revolution, and I am sure no one here is mak- 



ing such an assumption. In these last three years, we have 
learned to understand that placing our stake on the world 
revolution does not mean relying on a definite date, and 
that the accelerating pace of development may or may not 
lead to a revolution in the spring. Therefore, we must be 
able to bring our work in line with the class balance here 
and elsewhere, so as to be able to maintain the dictatorship 
of the proletariat for a long time, and, however gradual^, 
to remedy all our numerous misfortunes and crises. This 
is the only correct and sober approach. 

I shall now turn to an item concerning the work of the 
Central Committee during the present year which is closely 
related to the tasks facing us. It is the question of our for¬ 
eign relations. 

Prior to the Ninth Party Congress, our attention and all 
our endeavours were aimed at switching from our relations 
of war with the capitalist countries to relations of peace 
and trade. For that purpose we undertook all sorts of dip¬ 
lomatic moves and bested men who were undoubtedly 
skilled diplomats. When, for instance, the representatives of 
America or of the League of Nations proposed that we halt 
hostilities against Denikin and Kolchak on certain stated 
terms, they thought we would land in difficulties. In actual 
fact, it was they who landed in difficulties and we who 
scored a great diplomatic victory. They were made to look 
silly, they had to withdraw their terms, and this was sub¬ 
sequently exposed in all the diplomatic writings and press 
of the world. But we cannot rest content with a diplomatic 
victory. We need more than that: we need genuine trade 
relations. However, only this year has there been some de¬ 
velopment in trade relations. There is the question of trade 
relations with Britain, which has been central since the 
summer of last year. In this connection, the war with Po¬ 
land was a considerable setback for us. Britain was ready 
to sign a trade agreement. The British bourgeoisie wanted 
it, but court circles in Britain were against it and hampered 
it, and the war with Poland delayed it. It so happens that 
the matter has not been settled yet. 

Today’s papers, I think, say that Krasin has told the press 
in London that he expects the trade agreement to be signed 
shortly. I do not know whether these hopes are fully jus- 



tified. I cannot be certain that it will actually take place, 
but for my part I must say that we in the Central Committee 
have devoted a great deal of attention to this question and 
considered it correct for us to compromise in order to 
achieve a trade agreement with Britain. Not only because we 
could obtain more from Britain than from other countries 
—she is, in this respect, not as advanced as, say, Germany 
or America. She is a colonial power, with too great a stake 
in Asian politics, and is sometimes too sensitive to the suc¬ 
cesses of the Soviet power in certain countries lying near 
her colonies. That is why our relations with Britain are es¬ 
pecially tenuous. This tenuousness arises from such an ob¬ 
jective tangle of causes that no amount of skill on the part 
of the Soviet diplomatists will help. But we need a trade 
treaty with Britain owing to the possibility opening up for 
a treaty with America, whose industrial capacity is so much 

The concession issue is bound up with this. We devoted 
far more attention to it last year than before. A decree of 
the Council of People’s Commissars issued on November 
23 set out the concession question in a form most accepta¬ 
ble to foreign capitalists. When certain misinterpretations 
or insufficient understanding of this problem arose in Par¬ 
ty circles, a number of meetings of senior Party workers 
were held to discuss it. On the whole, there was not a great 
deal of disagreement, although we did hear of many pro¬ 
tests from workers and peasants. They said: “We got rid 
of our own capitalists, and now they want to call in some 
foreign capitalists.” Of course, the Central Committee had 
no statistics at its disposal to decide to what extent these 
protests were due to ignorance, or expressed the hopes of 
the kulak or outright capitalist section of the non-Party 
people who believe they have a legitimate right to be capi¬ 
talists in Russia, and not like the foreign capitalists who 
are invited in without any power, but with real power. 
Indeed, it is most unlikely that statistics on such factors are 
available anywhere in the world. But this decree was, at any 
rate, a step towards establishing relations with a view to 
granting Concessions. I must add that in practice—and this 
is something we must never forget—we have not secured a 
single concession. The point at issue is whether we should 



try to get them at all costs. Whether we get them or not 
does not depend on our arguments or decisions, but on in¬ 
ternational capital. On February 1 of this year, the Coun¬ 
cil of People’s Commissars took another decision on the 
concessions. Its first clause says: “To approve in principle 
the granting of oil concessions in Grozny and Baku and at 
other working oilfields and to open negotiations which 
should be pressed forward.” 

There was some difference of opinion on this point. Some 
comrades thought it was wrong to grant concessions in 
Grozny and Baku, as this would arouse opposition among 
the workers. The majority on the Central Committee, in¬ 
cluding myself, took the view that there were possibly no 
grounds for the complaints. 

The majority on the Central Committee and I myself took 
the view that it was essential to grant these concessions, 
and we shall ask you to back it up with your authority. It 
is vital to have such an alliance with the state trusts of the 
advanced countries because our economic crisis is so deep 
that we cannot, on our own, rehabilitate our ruined econ¬ 
omy without machinery and technical aid from abroad. 
Getting the equipment out here is not enough. We could 
grant concessions to the biggest imperialist trusts on a wider 
basis: say, a quarter of Baku, a quarter of Grozny, 
and a quarter of our best forest reserves, so as to 
assure ourselves of an essential basis by the installation 
of the most modern machinery; on the other hand, in return 
for this we shall be getting badly needed machinery for the 
remaining part. In this way we shall be able to close a part 
—say, a quarter or a half—of the gap between us and the 
modern, advanced trusts of other countries. No one, with 
anything like a sober view of the present situation, will 
doubt that unless we do this we shall be in a very difficult 
position indeed, and shall be unable to overtake them with¬ 
out a superhuman effort. Negotiations with some of the 
largest world trusts have already begun. Naturally, for their 
part they are not simply doing us a good turn: they are in 
it only for the fantastic profits. Modern capitalism—as a 
non-belligerent diplomat would put it—is a robber, a ring. 
It is not the old capitalism bf pre-war days: because of its 
monopoly of the world market its profit margins run to 



hundreds of per cents. Of course, this will exact a high 
price, but there is no other way out because the world revo¬ 
lution is marking time. There is no other way for us to 
raise our technology to the modern level. And if one of the 
crises were to give a sharp spur to the world revolution, 
and if it were to arrive before the concession terms ran out, 
our concession obligations would turn out to be less onerous 
than they appear on paper. 

On February 1, 1921, the Council of People’s Commissars 
decided to purchase 18,500,000 poods of coal abroad, for our 
fuel crisis was already in evidence. It had already become 
clear by then that we would have to expend our gold re¬ 
serves not only on the purchase of machinery. In the latter 
case, our coal output would have increased, for we would 
have boosted our production if, instead of coal, we had 
bought machines abroad to develop our coal industry, but 
the crisis was so acute that we had to opt for the worse eco¬ 
nomic step and spend our money on the coal we could have 
produced at home. We shall have to make further compro¬ 
mises to buy consumer goods for the peasants and workers. 

First published ift 1921 in the book Collected Works, Vol. 32, 

•Desiaty syezd rossiiskoi kommunisti- pp. 179-83 

cheskoi partii. Stenograficheski otchot 
(The Tenth Congress of the R.C.P. 

Verbatim Report), March 8-16, 1921, 




I believe that there are only two kinds of government 
possible in Russia—a Government by the Soviets or a 
Government headed by a tsar. Some fools or traitors in 
Kronstadt talked of a Constituent Assembly, but does any 
man in his senses believe for a moment that a Constituent 
Assembly at this critical abnormal stage would be anything 
but a bear garden. This Kronstadt affair in itself is a very 
petty incident. It no more threatens to break up the Soviet 
state than the Irish disorders are threatening to break up 
the British Empire. 

Some people in America have come to think of the Bol¬ 
sheviks as a small clique of very bad men who are tyran¬ 
nising over a vast number of highly intellectual people who 
would form an admirable Government among themselves 
the moment the Bolshevik regime was overthrown. This is 
a mistake, for there is nobody to take our place save butcher 
Generals and helpless bureaucrats who have already dis¬ 
played their total incapacity for rule. 

If people abroad exaggerate the importance of the rising 
in Kronstadt and give it support, it is because the world has 
broken up into two camps: capitalism abroad and Com¬ 
munist Russia. 

Published in English . Collected Works, Vol. 36, 

on March 15, 1921 p. 538 

in The New York Herald Tribune 
No. 197 

Published in Russian 
on March 26, 1921 
in Petrogradskaya Pravda 
No. 67 


OF THE R.C.P.(B .) 127 

MAY 26-28, 1921 


MAY 28 

The current international situation is such that some sort 
of a temporary, unstable equilibrium, but equilibrium for 
all that, has been established; it is the kind of equilibrium 
under which the imperialist powers have been compelled to 
abandon their desire to hurl themselves at Soviet Russia, 
despite their hatred for her, because the disintegration of 
the capitalist world is steadily progressing, unity is steadily 
diminishing, while the onslaught of the forces of the op¬ 
pressed colonies, which have a population of over a thou¬ 
sand million, is increasing from year to year, month to 
month, and even week to week. But we can make no con¬ 
jectures on this score. We are now exercising our main in¬ 
fluence on the international revolution through our eco¬ 
nomic policy. The working people of all countries without 
exception and without exaggeration are looking to the Soviet 
Russian Republic. This much has been achieved. The capi¬ 
talists cannot hush up or conceal anything. That is why 
they so eagerly catch at our every economic mistake and 
weakness. The struggle in this field has now become global. 
Once we solve this problem, we shall have certainly and 
finally won on an international scale. That is why for us 
questions of economic development become of absolutely 
exceptional importance. On this front, we must achieve vic¬ 
tory by a steady rise and progress which must be gradual 
and necessarily slow. 

Published in Pravda No. 119, 
June 2, 1921 

Collected Works , Vol. 32, 
pp. 436 37 


L. B. KAMENEV 128 

In view of the fact that the low-down American huck¬ 
sters are trying to create the impression that we could be 
expected to cheat, 

I propose that we should immediately telegraph them of¬ 
ficially on behalf of the government, over the signatures of 
Kamenev and Chicherin (and if necessary Kalinin’s and 
mine as well), the following: 

We shall deposit with a New York bank an amount in 
gold constituting 120 per cent of what they will supply in 
the course of a month for one million starving children 
and sick persons, but our terms in that case are such that, 
considering such a complete material guarantee, the Amer¬ 
icans must absolutely abstain not only from political but 
also from administrative interference, and must make no 
claims whatsoever, since this voids all the terms of the 
treaty giving them the least right to interfere even admin¬ 
istratively. On the spot check-ups will be made by parity 
commissions (representing our government and them). 

This proposal will show the hucksters just where they 
stand and subsequently disgrace them in the eyes of the 
whole world. 

We should not forget that we have never had rationing of 
any kind in the countryside. If we are to make no mistake 
in this matter, I suggest we invite someone from the Peo¬ 
ple’s Commissariat for Food to discuss the matter. 

August 13,1921 


First published in 1959 
in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI 

Published according to the 
text of the Miscellany 



Comrade Chicherin, 

I think we should wean them of these ways. Can it not be 
done in this way: answer formally in writing with refer¬ 
ence to the “note”. Then they will realise that we shall 
(soon) publicly ridicule them and gifler* them for the 
unsigned notes. 



Published according to the 
text of the Miscellany 

Written not earlier than 
September 16, 1921 
First published in 1959 
in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI 

* Gifler (French)—to box the ears.— Ed. 




Let the curs and swine of the moribund bourgeoisie and 
of the petty-bourgeois democrats who trail behind, them 
heap imprecations, abuse and derision upon our heads for 
our reverses and mistakes in the work of building up our 
Soviet system. We do not forget for a moment that we have 
committed and are committing numerous mistakes and are 
suffering numerous reverses. How can reverses and mis¬ 
takes be avoided in a matter so new in the history of the 
world as the building of an unprecedented type of state 
edifice! We shall work steadfastly to set our reverses and 
mistakes right and to improve our practical application 
of Soviet principles, which is still very, very far from being 
perfect. But we have a right to be and are proud that to us 
has fallen the good fortune to begin, the building of a So¬ 
viet state, and thereby to usher in a new era in world his¬ 
tory, the era of the rule of a new class, a class which is op¬ 
pressed in every capitalist country, but which everywhere 
is marching forward towards a new life, towards victory 
over the bourgeoisie, towards the dictatorship of the pro¬ 
letariat, towards the emancipation of mankind from the 
yoke of capital and from imperialist wars. 

The question of imperialist wars, of the international 
policy of finance capital which now dominates the whole 
world, a policy that must inevitably engender new imperial¬ 
ist wars, that must inevitably cause an extreme intensifica¬ 
tion of national oppression, pillage, brigandry and the 


strangulation of weak, backward and small nationalities by 
a handful of “advanced” powers—that question has been 
the keystone of all policy in all the countries of the globe 
since 1914. It is a question of life and death for millions 
upon millions of people. It is a question of whether 
20,000,000 people (as compared with the 10,000,000 who 
were killed in the war of 191418 and in the supplementary 
“minor” wars that are still going on) are to be slaughtered 
in the next imperialist war, which the bourgeoisie are pre¬ 
paring, and which is growing out of capitalism before our 
very eyes. It is a question of whether in that future war, 
which is inevitable (if capitalism continues to exist), 
60,000,000 people are to be maimed (compared with the 
30,000,000 maimed in 1914-18). In this question, too, our 
October Revolution marked the beginning of a new era in 
world history. The lackeys of the bourgeoisie and its yes- 
men—the Socialist-Revolutionaries and the Mensheviks, and 
the petty-bourgeois, allegedly “socialist”, democrats all over 
the world—derided our slogan “convert the imperialist war 
into a civil war”. But that slogan proved to be the truth — 
it was the only truth, unpleasant, blunt, naked and brutal, 
but nevertheless the truth, as against the host of most re¬ 
fined jingoist and pacifist lies. Those lies are being dis¬ 
pelled. The Brest peace has been exposed. And with every 
passing day the significance and consequences of a peace 
that is even worse than the Brest peace—the peace of Ver¬ 
sailles—are being more relentlessly exposed. And the mil¬ 
lions who are thinking about the causes of the recent war 
and of the approaching future war are more and more 
clearly realising the grim and inexorable truth that it is 
impossible to escape imperialist war, and imperialist peace 
(if the old orthography were still in use, I would have writ¬ 
ten the word mir in two ways, to give it both its meanings)* 
which inevitably engenders imperialist war, that it is impos¬ 
sible to escape that inferno, except by a Bolshevik struggle 
and a Bolshevik revolution. 

Let the bourgeoisie and the pacifists, the generals and 
the petty bourgeoisie, the capitalists and the philistines, the 

* In Russian, the word mir has two meanings (world and peace) 
and had two different spellings in the old orthography.— Ed. 



pious Christians and the knights of the Second and the 
Two-and-a-Half Internationals vent their fury against that 
revolution. No torrents of abuse, calumnies and lies can 
enable them to conceal the historic fact that for the first 
time in hundreds and thousands of years the slaves have 
replied to a war between slave-owners by openly proclaim¬ 
ing the slogan “Convert this war between slave-owners for 
the division of their loot into a war of the slaves of all 
nations against the sjave-owners of all nations.” 

For the first time in hundreds and thousands of years 
that slogan has grown from a vague and helpless waiting into 
a clear and definite political programme, into an effective 
struggle waged by millions of oppressed people under the 
leadership of the proletariat; it has grown into the first vic¬ 
tory of the proletariat, the first victory in the struggle to 
abolish war and to unite the workers of all countries against 
the united bourgeoisie of different nations, against the bour¬ 
geoisie that makes peace and war at the expense of the 
slaves of capital, the wage-workers, the peasants, the 
working people. 

This first victory is not yet the final victory, and it was 
achieved by our October Revolution at the price of incred¬ 
ible difficulties and hardships, at the price of unprecedent¬ 
ed suffering, accompanied by a series of serious reverses 
and mistakes on our part. How could a single backward 
people be expected to frustrate the imperialist wars of the 
most powerful and most developed countries of the world 
without sustaining reverses and without committing mis¬ 
takes! We are not afraid to admit our mistakes and shall 
examine them dispassionately in order to learn how to cor¬ 
rect them. But the fact remains that for the first time in 
hundreds and thousands of years the promise “to reply” to 
war between the slave-owners by a revolution of the slaves 
directed against all the slave-owners has been completely 
fulfilled —and is being fulfilled despite all difficulties. 

We have made the start. When, at what date and time, 
and the proletarians of which nation will complete this 
process is not important. The important thing is that the ice 
has been broken; the road is open, the way has been shown. 

Gentlemen, capitalists of all countries, keep up your hyp¬ 
ocritical pretence of “defending the fatherland”—the 



Japanese fatherland against the American, the American 
against the Japanese, the French against the British, and 
so forth 1 Gentlemen, knights of the Second and Two-and- 
a-Half Internationals, pacifist petty bourgeoisie and philis- 
tines of the entire world, go on “evading” the question of 
how to combat imperialist wars by issuing new “Basle 
Manifestos” (on the model of the Basle Manifesto of 1912). 
The first Bolshevik revolution has wrested the first hundred 
million people of this earth from the clutches of imperialist 
war and the imperialist world. Subsequent revolutions will 
deliver the rest of mankind from such wars and from such 
a world. 

Prauda No. 234, 
October 18, 1921 
Signed: N. Lenin 

Collected Works, Vol. 33, 
pp. 54-57 



October 16 [1921] 

Comrade Chicherin, 

I do not agree with your appraisal of the situation and 
with the steps you propose to make. There can be no ques¬ 
tion of Trotsky and me leaving the Executive Committee of 
the Communist International. 130 

With regard to the debts, it is enough to inform Krasin. 

Urquhart differs so far on percentages; he offered five per 
cent of the gross output, our commission demanded ten per 

The British and French want to plunder us. We shall not 
allow it. We shall not pay any attention to their “discon¬ 

There is one concession—timber in the Caucasus. A com¬ 
mercial rapprochement with the Germans is on the way. 
With Italy things are starting to move; they offer us a loan 
That must be accelerated and pushed forward as much as 

We have an agreement on boilers with Armstrong. There 
is an agreement with Norway. 

The “sharp turn” is only that of Britain and France, and, 
in my opinion, no concessions should be made to them, or 
steps taken. Hoover is a real advantage. 

With Communist greetings, 


First published in 1959 
in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI 

Published according to the 
text of the Miscellany 




I ask that the question be discussed as to whether the 
Congress of Soviets ought to adopt a special resolution 
against the adventurist policy of Poland, Finland and Ru¬ 
mania (for a number of reasons it is better to say nothing 
about Japan). In the resolution it must be comprehensively 
explained that no government of Russia (except the Soviet 
Government) has ever recognised or could recognise the 
criminal nature of the imperialist policy in respect of the 
outlying regions of the former Russian Empire pursued both 
by tsarism and by the Provisional Government, which had 
the backing of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutiona¬ 
ries. The resolution should state in detail how much we 
have shown by deeds that we value both the self-determina¬ 
tion of nations and peaceful relations with the states that 
were once part of the Russian Empire. Say in detail that 
we fully anticipate a peaceful attitude, not only on the part 
of the workers and peasants of all the countries mentioned, 
but also on the part of a huge section of the reasonable 
bourgeoisie and the governments. In respect of the adven¬ 
turist elements, end up with a sharp threat to the effect that 
if the adventurist fooling with gangs similar to the former 
Savinkov gangs does not stop, and if they continue to inter¬ 
fere with our peaceful work, we shall arise in a people’s 
war, and those who take part in adventures and banditism 
will be completely crushed. 



Instruct Trotsky and Chicherin to draw up a draft 

A Congress resolution with such a content would be con¬ 
venient for mass distribution in all languages. 

December 22,1921 


Dictated by telephone 
on December 22 
First published (abridged) in 
1945 in Lenin Miscellany XXXV' 
First published in full in 1950 
in the Fourth Russian edition 
of the Collected Works 

Collected Works , Vol. 33, 
p. 139 


DECEMBER 23-28, 1921 


From the Report 

of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee 
and the Council of People’s Commissars 
December 23 

(Stormy applause. Cries of “Hurrah!”, “Long live our 
leader, Comrade Lenin!”, “Long live the leader of the world 
proletariat, Comrade Lenin!” Prolonged applause.) Com¬ 
rades, I have to make a report on the foreign and home 
situation of the Republic. This is the first time I am able to 
make such a report when a whole year has passed without 
any major attack being made against our Soviet power by 
Russian or foreign capitalists. This is the first year that we 
have been able to enjoy a relative respite from attacks, 
even if for a limited period, and have been able in some 
measure to apply our energies to our chief and fundamental 
tasks, namely, the rehabilitation of our war-ravaged 
economy, healing the wounds inflicted on Russia by the 
exploiting classes that had been in power, and laying the 
foundations for socialist construction. 

First and foremost, in dealing with the question of the 
international position of our Republic, I must repeat what 
I have already said, namely, that a certain equilibrium, 
though a highly unstable one, has been created in interna¬ 
tional relations. This is now evident. It is very strange for 
those of us who have lived through the revolution from its 
inception, who have experienced and observed our incred¬ 
ible difficulties in breaching the imperialist fronts, to see 
how things have now developed. At that time probably none 



of us expected or could have expected that things would 
shape out like this. 

We imagined (and it is perhaps well worth remembering 
this now because it will help us in our practical conclusions 
on the main economic problems) that future development 
would take a more simple, a more direct form than the 
one it took. We told ourselves and we told the working 
class and all working people both of Russia and of other 
countries that there was no way out of the accursed, crimi¬ 
nal imperialist slaughter except through revolution, and that 
by breaking off the imperialist war by revolution we were 
opening up the only possible way out of this criminal 
slaughter for all peoples. It seemed to us then, as it was 
bound to, that this was the obvious, direct and easiest path 
to take. This direct path, which, in fact, alone had enabled 
us to break free of imperialist ties, of imperialist crimes and 
of the imperialist war continuing to threaten the rest of 
the world, proved to be one which other nations were un¬ 
able to take—at any rate not as quickly as we had thought 
they would. When, nevertheless, we now see what has taken 
place, when we see that there is only one Socialist Soviet 
Republic and that it is surrounded by a whole array of 
frenziedly hostile imperialist powers, we ask ourselves—how 
was it possible for this to happen? 

One may reply without any exaggeration that this hap¬ 
pened because our understanding of events was basically 
correct, our appraisal of the imperialist slaughter and the 
confusion in the relations between the imperialist powers 
was also basically correct. It is only due to this that such a , 
strange situation, the unstable, inexplicable, and yet to a 
certain extent indisputable equilibrium that we witness, has 
arisen. The fact of the matter is that although completely 
surrounded by countries economically and militarily much 
more powerful than ourselves, whose open hostility to us 
quite often borders on frenzy, we nevertheless see that they 
were unable to destroy Soviet Russia directly and instantly 
—something on which they had been spending so much of 
their resources and their strength for three years. When 
we ask ourselves how this could have happened, how it 
could be that a state, undoubtedly one of the most back¬ 
ward and weakest, managed to repel the attacks of the 


openly hostile, most powerful countries in the world, when 
we try to examine this question, we see clearly that it was 
because we proved to be correct on the most fundamental 
issues. Our forecasts and calculations proved to be correct. 
It turned out that although we did not receive the swift 
and direct support of the working people of the world that 
we had counted on, and which we had regarded as the 
basis of the whole of our policy, we did receive support of 
another kind, which was not direct or swift—the sympathy 
of the workers and peasants, the farm workers, throughout 
the world, even in the countries most hostile to us, the sym¬ 
pathy that was great enough to be the final and most de¬ 
cisive source, the decisive reason for the complete failure 
of all the^ attacks directed against us. This sympathy consol¬ 
idated the alliance of the working people of all countries 
which we had proclaimed and which had been implement¬ 
ed within the borders of our Republic, and which had its 
effect on all countries. No matter how precarious this 
support may be, as long as capitalism exists in other 
countries (this we must of course see clearly and frankly 
acknowledge), we may say that it is something we can rely 
on. Because of this sympathy and support, the intervention, 
which we endured in the course of three years, which 
caused us incredible destruction and suffering, is, I will not 
say impossible—one has to be very cautious and circum¬ 
spect here—but, at any rate, has been made far more dif¬ 
ficult for our enemies to carry out. And this, in the final 
analysis, explains the situation now obtaining and which at 
first glance appears so strange and incomprehensible. 

When we calmly weigh up the sympathy felt for Bol¬ 
shevism and the socialist revolution, when we survey the 
international situation from the point of view of the bal¬ 
ance of forces, irrespective of whether these forces favour 
a just or an unjust cause, whether they favour the exploit¬ 
ing class or the working people—we shall ignore this aspect 
and attempt an appraisal of the alignment of these forces 
on an international scale—then we shall see that they are 
grouped in a manner that basically confirms our predictions 
and calculations: that capitalism is disintegrating and that 
since the war, which ended first with the Treaty of Brest- 
Litovsk and subsequently with the Treaty of Versailles— 



and I don’t know which is worse—hatred and loathing for 
the war increase as time passes even in the countries which 
emerged as victors. And the farther we get from the war the 
clearer it becomes, not only to the working people, but to 
an extremely large extent also to the bourgeoisie of the 
victor countries, that capitalism is disintegrating, that the 
world economic crisis has created an intolerable situation 
from which there is no escape, despite all the victories. That 
is why, while being immeasurably weaker economically, 
politically and militarily than all the other powers, we are 
at the same time stronger, because we are aware of and 
correctly assess all that emerges and must emerge from this 
imperialist confusion, from this bloody tangle and from 
those contradictions (to take only the currency contradic¬ 
tions, I will not mention the others) in which they have 
become entangled and are becoming entangled still more 
deeply and from which they see no way out. 

Today we see how the representatives of the most 
moderate bourgeoisie, who are definitely and without doubt 
far removed from socialist ideas, to say nothing of “that 
awful Bolshevism”, change their tune; this concerns even 
people like the famous writer Keynes, whose book has been 
translated into all languages, who took part in the Versail¬ 
les negotiations, and who devoted himself heart and soul 
to helping the governments—even he, subsequently, has had 
to change his tune, to give it up, although he continues to 
curse socialism. I repeat, he does not mention, nor does 
he wish even to think about Bolshevism—but he tells the 
capitalist world: “What you are doing will lead you into a 
hopeless situation”, and he even proposes something like 
the annulment of all debts. 

That is excellent, gentlemen! You should have followed 
our example long ago. 

Only a few days ago we read a short report in the news¬ 
papers to the effect that one of the most experienced, ex¬ 
ceedingly skilful and astute leaders of a capitalist govern¬ 
ment, Lloyd George, is, it appears, beginning to propose a 
similar step; and that seemingly the U.S.A. wishes to reply 
by saying: “Sorry, but we want to be repaid in full.” That 
being so, we say to ourselves that things are not going too 
well in these advanced and mighty states since they are dis- 


cussing such a simple measure so many years after the war. 
This was one of the easiest things we did—it was nothing 
to some of the other difficulties we overcame. (Applause.) 
When we see the growing confusion on this question we 
say that we are not afraid of their propaganda; although 
we by no means forget either the dangers surrounding us 
or our economic and military weakness compared to any 
one of these states, who, jointly, quite openly and frequent¬ 
ly express their hatred for us. Whenever we express some¬ 
what different views as to whether the existence of land- 
owners and capitalists is justified they do not like it, and 
these views are declared to be criminal propaganda. I sim¬ 
ply cannot understand this, for the same sort of propaganda 
is conducted legally in all states that do not share our eco¬ 
nomic views and opinions. Propaganda which calls Bolshe¬ 
vism monstrous, criminal, usurpatory—this monster defies 
description—this propaganda is conducted openly in all 
these countries. Recently I had a meeting with Christensen, 
who was a candidate for the U.S. Presidency on behalf of 
the farmers’ and workers’ party there. Do not be misled by 
this name, comrades. It does not in the least resemble the 
workers’ and peasants’ party in Russia. It is a purely bour¬ 
geois party, openly and resolutely hostile to any kind of 
socialism, and is recognised as being perfectly respectable 
by all bourgeois parties. This Danish-born American, who 
received almost a million votes at the presidential elections 
(and this, after all, is something in the United States), told 
me how in Denmark, when he tried to say among people 
“dressed like I am”, and he was well dressed, like a bour¬ 
geois, that the Bolsheviks were not criminals, “they nearly 
killed me”. They told him that the Bolsheviks were mon¬ 
sters, usurpers, and that they were surprised that anyone 
could mention such people in decent society. This is the 
type of propaganda atmosphere surrounding us. 

We see, nevertheless, that a certain equilibrium has been 
created. This is the objective political situation, quite in¬ 
dependent of our victories, which proves that we have 
fathomed the depth of the contradictions connected with 
the imperialist war, and that we are gauging them more 
correctly than ever before and more correctly than other 
powers, who, despite all their victories, despite all their 



strength, have not yet found a way out, nor see any. That 
is the substance of the international situation which ac¬ 
counts for what we now see. We have before us a highly 
unstable equilibrium but one that is, nevertheless, certain, 
obvious, indisputable. I do not know whether this is for 
long, and I do not think that anyone can know. That is 
why, for our part, we must display the utmost caution. And 
the first precept of our policy, the first lesson that emerges 
from our governmental activities for the past year, the les¬ 
son which must be learned by all workers and peasants, is 
to be on the alert, to remember that we are surrounded by 
people, classes, governments who openly express the utmost 
hatred for us. We must remember that we are always a 
hair’s breadth away from invasion. We shall do all in our 
power to prevent this misfortune. It is doubtful that any 
nation has experienced such a burden of the imperialist 
war as we have. Then we bore the burden of the Civil War 
forced on us by the ruling classes, who fought for the Rus¬ 
sia of the emigres, the Russia of the landowners, the Russia 
of the capitalists. We know, we know only too well, the 
incredible misfortunes that war brings to the workers and 
peasants. For that reason our attitude to this question must 
be most cautious and circumspect. We are ready to make 
the greatest concessions and sacrifices in order to preserve 
the peace for which we have paid such a high price. We 
are ready to make huge concessions and sacrifices, but not 
any kind and not for ever. Let those, fortunately not nu¬ 
merous, representatives of the war parties and aggressive 
cliques of Finland, Poland and Rumania who make great 
play of this—let them mark it well. (Applause.) 

Anyone who has any political sense or acumen will say 
that there has not been—nor can there be—a government 
in Russia other than the Soviet Government prepared to 
make such concessions and sacrifices in relation to nation¬ 
alities within our state, and also to those which had joined 
the Russian Empire. There is not, and cannot be, another 
government which would recognise as clearly as we do and 
declare so distinctly to one and all that the attitude of old 
Russia (tsarist Russia, Russia of the war parties) to the 
nationalities populating Russia was criminal, that this atti¬ 
tude was impermissible, that it aroused the rightful and 


indignant protest and discontent of the oppressed nationali¬ 
ties. There is not, and cannot be, another government which 
would so openly admit this, which would conduct this anti¬ 
chauvinist propaganda, a propaganda that recognises the 
guilt of old Russia, tsarist Russia, Kerensky Russia—a gov¬ 
ernment which would conduct propaganda against the for¬ 
cible incorporation of other nationalities into Russia. This 
is not mere words—this is an obvious political fact, absolute¬ 
ly indisputable and plain for all to see. As long as no 
nationalities engage in intrigues against us which bind them 
to the imperialist oppression, as long as they do not help 
to crush us, we shall not be deterred by formalities. We 
shall not forget that we are revolutionaries. (Applause.) 
But there are facts incontrovertibly and indisputably show¬ 
ing that in Russia, that has defeated the Mensheviks and 
Socialist-Revolutionaries, the smallest, completely unarmed 
nationality, however weak it may be, may and must abso¬ 
lutely rest assured that we have nothing but peaceful in¬ 
tentions towards it, that our propaganda about the criminal¬ 
ity of the old policy of the old governments is not weaken¬ 
ing and that we are as firm as ever in our desire at all 
costs, and at the price of enormous sacrifices and conces¬ 
sions, to maintain peace with all nationalities that belonged 
to the former Russian Empire, but who did not wish to 
remain with us. We have proved this. And we shall prove 
this no matter how great the curses rained on us from all 
sides. It seems to us that we have given excellent proof of 
it, and-we declare to the meeting of representatives of the 
workers and peasants of Russia, to the many millions of 
workers and peasants, that we shall do our utmost to pre¬ 
serve peace in the future, that we shall not shrink from 
great sacrifices and concessions in order to safeguard this 

There are, however, limits beyond which one cannot go. 
We shall not permit peace treaties to be flouted. We shall 
not permit attempts to interfere with our peaceful work. 
On no account shall we permit this, and we shall rise to a 
man to defend our existence. (Applause.) 

Comrades, what I have just said is perfectly clear and 
comprehensible to you, and you could not expect anything 
else from anyone reporting to you on our policy. You know 



that such, and no other, is our policy. But, unfortunately, 
there are now two worlds: the old world of capitalism, that 
is in a state of confusion but which will never surrender 
voluntarily, and the rising new world, which is still very 
weak, but which will grow, for it is invincible. This old 
world has its old diplomacy, which cannot believe that it 
is possible to speak frankly and forthrightly. This old di¬ 
plomacy thinks there must be a trap of some sort here. 
( Applause , laughter.) When this economically and militar¬ 
ily all-powerful old world sent us—that was some time ago 
—Bullitt, a representative of the United States Government, 
who came to us with the proposal that we should conclude 
peace with Kolchak and Denikin on terms that were most 
unfavourable to us—we said that we held so dear the blood 
of the workers and peasants shed for so long in Russia that 
although the terms were extremely unfavourable we were 
prepared to accept them, because we were convinced that 
the forces of Kolchak and Denikin would disintegrate from 
within. We said this quite frankly, with the minimum of 
diplomatic subtlety, and so they concluded that we must 
be trying to dupe them. And Bullitt, who had held these 
friendly, round-table conversations with us, was met with 
reproach and compelled to resign as soon as he got home. 
I am surprised that he has not yet been thrown into gaol, 
in keeping with the imperialist custom, for secretly sym¬ 
pathising with the Bolsheviks. ( Laughter, applause.) But 
the upshot was that we, who at that time had proposed 
peace to our disadvantage, obtained peace on much more 
favourable terms. That was something of a lesson. I know 
that we can no more learn the old diplomacy than we can 
remould ourselves; but the lessons in diplomacy that we 
have given since then and that have been learned by the 
other powers must have had some effect; they must have 
remained in the memory of some people. (Laughter.) 
Hence, our straightforward statement that our workers and 
peasants prized above all the blessings of peace, but that 
there were limits to the concessions they were prepared to 
make to preserve it, was taken to mean that they had not 
for a moment, not for a second, forgotten the hardships 
they had suffered in the imperialist war and the Civil War. 
This reminder, which I am sure this Congress, and the 



whole mass of workers and peasants, all Russia, will en¬ 
dorse and express—this reminder will surely have some 
effect and play a certain role, no matter how the powers 
take it, no matter what diplomatic ruse their old diplomat¬ 
ic habits make them suspect. 

This, comrades, is what I think must be said about our 
international situation. A certain unstable equilibrium has 
been reached. Materially—economically and militarily—we 
are extremely weak; but morally—by which, of course, 
I mean not abstract morals, but the alignment of the real 
forces of all classes in all countries—we are the strongest 
of all. This has been proved in practice; it has been proved 
not merely by words but by deeds; it has been proved once 
and, if history takes a certain turn, it will, perhaps, be 
proved many times again. That is why we say that having 
started on our work of peaceful development we shall exert 
every effort to continue it without interruption. At the same 
time, comrades, be vigilant, safeguard the defence potential 
of our country, strengthen our Red Army to the utmost, 
and remember that we have no right to permit an instant’s 
slackening where our workers and peasants and their gains 
are concerned. (Applause.) 

Comrades, having thus briefly outlined the most essential 
features of our international position, I shall now deal with 
the manner in which economic relations are beginning to 
shape out in our country and in Western Europe, in the 
capitalist countries. The greatest difficulty here is that with¬ 
out definite relations between us and the capitalist coun¬ 
tries we cannot have stable economic relations. Events very 
clearly show that neither can the capitalist countries have 
them. But today we are not in an altruistic mood. We are 
thinking more of how to continue in existence when other 
powers are hostile to us. 

But is the existence of a socialist republic in a capitalist 
environment at all conceivable? It seemed inconceivable 
from the political and military aspects. That it is possible 
both politically and militarily has now been proved; it is a 
fact. But what about trade? What about economic rela¬ 
tions? Contacts, assistance, the exchange of services between 
backward, ruined agricultural Russia and the advanced, 
industrially-developed group of capitalist countries—is all 



this possible? Did they not threaten to surround us with a 
barbed wire fence so as to prevent any economic relations 
with us whatever? “War did not scare them, so we shall 
reduce them by means of a blockade.” 

Comrades, during the past four years we have heard so 
many threats, and such terrible ones, that none of them can 
frighten us any more. As for the blockade, experience has 
shown that it is an open question as to who suffers from 
it most, the blockaded or the blockaders. Experience has 
shown beyond doubt that during this first year, on which 
I am able to report as a period of a relatively elementary 
respite from direct brute force, we have not been recognised, 
we have been rejected, and relations with us have been 
declared non-existent (let them be recognised as non-exist¬ 
ent by the bourgeois courts), but they nevertheless exist. 
I deem it my right to report to you that this is, without the 
slightest exaggeration, one of the main results achieved in 
1921, the year under review. 

I- do not know whether the report of the People’s Com¬ 
missariat of Foreign Affairs to the Ninth Congress of So¬ 
viets has been, or will be, distributed to you today. In my 
opinion, the defect in this report is that it is too bulky and 
is difficult to read right through. But, perhaps, this is my 
own failing, and I have no doubt that the overwhelming 
majority of you, as well as all those who are interested in 
politics, will read it, even if not immediately. Even if you 
do not read it all, but only glance through its pages, you 
will see that Russia has sprouted, if one may so express it, 
a number of fairly regular and permanent commercial rela¬ 
tions, missions, treaties, etc. True, we are not yet recognised 
de jure. This is still important, because the danger of the 
unstable equilibrium being upset, the danger of new at¬ 
tempts at invasion has, as I have said, increased; the rela¬ 
tions, however, are a fact. 

In 1921—the first year of trade with foreign countries— 
we made considerable progress. This was partly due to the 
improvement in our transport system, perhaps the most 
important, or one of the most important sectors of our 
economy. It is due also to our imports and exports. Permit 
me to quote very brief figures. All our difficulties, our most 
incredible difficulties—the burden of these difficulties, the 



most crucial feature of them—lie in fuel and food, in the 
peasant economy, in the famine and calamities that have 
afflicted us. We know very well that all this is bound up 
with the transport problem. We must discuss this, and all 
comrades from the localities must know and repeat it over 
and over again to all their comrades there that we must 
strain every nerve to overcome the food and fuel crisis. It 
is from this that our transport system suffers, and trans¬ 
port is the material instrument of our relations with foreign 

The organisational improvements in our transport system 
over the past year are beyond doubt. In 1921 we transport¬ 
ed by river much more than in 1920. The average run per 
vessel in 1921 was 1,000 pood-versts as compared with 800 
pood-versts in 1920. We have definitely made some progress 
in organisation. I must say that for the first time we are 
beginning to obtain assistance from abroad. We have or¬ 
dered thousands of locomotives, and we have already re¬ 
ceived the first thirteen from Sweden and thirty-seven from 
Germany. It is a very small beginning, but a beginning, 
nevertheless. We have ordered hundreds of tank cars, about 
500 of which arrived here in the course of 1921. We are 
paying a high, an exorbitant price for these things, but still 
it shows that we are receiving the assistance of the large- 
scale industry of the advanced countries; it shows that the 
large-scale industry of the capitalist countries is helping us 
to restore our economy, although all these countries are 
governed by capitalists who hate us heart and soul. All of 
these capitalists are united by governments which continue 
to make statements in their press about how matters stand 
with the de jure recognition of Soviet Russia, and about 
whether or not the Bolshevik Government is a legitimate 
one. Lengthy research revealed that it is a legitimate gov¬ 
ernment, but it cannot be recognised. I have no right to 
conceal the sad truth that we are not yet recognised, but 
I must tell you that commercial relations are nevertheless 

All these capitalist countries are in a position to make us 
pay through the nose; we pay more for the goods than they 
are worth; but for all that, they are helping our economy. 
How did that happen? Why are they acting against their 



own inclinations and in contradiction to what they are 
constantly asserting in their press? And this press is more 
than a match for ours in respect of circulation, and the 
force and venom with which it attacks us. They call us 
criminals, and all the same they help us. And so it turns 
out they are bound up with us economically. It turns out 
as I have already said, that our calculations, made on a 
grand scale, are more correct than theirs. This is not be¬ 
cause they lack people capable of making correct calcula¬ 
tions—they have far more than we have—but because it is 
impossible to calculate properly when one is heading for 
destruction. That is why I would like to supplement my 
remarks with a few figures to show how our foreign trade 
is developing. I shall quote only very brief figures that are 
easy to remember. In three years—1918, 1919 and 1920— 
our total imports amounted to a little over 17,000,000 
poods; in 1921 they amounted to 50,000,000 poods, that is 
to say, three times the total amount imported in the three 
preceding years. Our exports in the first three years to¬ 
talled 2,500,000 poods; in 1921 alone, they amounted to 
11,500,000 poods. These figures are infinitesimally, miser¬ 
ably, ridiculously small; any well-informed person will at 
once say that they are indicative of poverty. And that is 
what they do indicate. But for all that, it is a beginning. 
And we, who have experienced (firect attempts to crush us, 
who for years have been hearing threats that everything 
will be done to prevent any relations with us as long as we 
remain what we are, nevertheless see that something has 
proved more potent than these threats. We see that their 
forecast of economic development was wrong and ours was 
right. We have made a start, and we must now exert all 
our efforts to continue this development without interrup¬ 
tion. We must make it our primary concern, giving it all 
our attention. 

I shall give you another little illustration of the progress 
we made in 1921. In the first quarter of 1921 imports 
amounted to about 3,000,000 poods, in the second quarter 
to 8,000,000 poods, in the third quarter to 24,000,000 poods. 
So we are making progress. These figures are infinitesimally 
small, but they nevertheless show a gradual increase. We 
see how they grew in 1921, which was a year of unprece- 


dented difficulties. You know what that calamity, the fam¬ 
ine, cost us, what incredible difficulties it is still causing on 
the farms, in industry and in our life generally. But al¬ 
though our country has been devastated by war, has suffered 
tremendous hardship as a result of all the wars and of the 
rule of tsars and capitalists, we are now on the road that 
offers us a prospect of improvement, in spite of the unceas¬ 
ing hostility towards us. That is the main factor. That is 
why, when we read recently about the Washington Confer¬ 
ence, 132 when we heard the news that the countries hostile 
to us would be obliged to convene a second conference next 
summer and to invite Germany and Russia to discuss the 
terms of a genuine peace, we said that our terms are clear 
and definite; we have formulated them, we have published 
them. How much hostility shall we encounter? We have no 
illusions about that; but we know that the economic posi¬ 
tion of those who blockaded us has proved to be vulnerable. 
There is a force more powerful than the wishes, the will 
and the decisions of any of the governments or classes that 
are hostile to us. That force is world general economic 
relations, which compel them to make contact with us. The 
farther they proceed in this direction the more extensive 
and rapid will be the development of what in today’s re¬ 
port for 1921 I have been able to indicate to you only by 
some scanty figures. 

... You are fully aware, comrades, of the incredible hard¬ 
ships of the 1921 famine. It was inevitable that the mis¬ 
fortunes of old Russia should have been carried over to our 
times, because the only way to avoid them is to restore the 
economy, but not on the old, paltry, petty basis. It must 
be rehabilitated on a new basis, the basis of large-scale 
industry and electrification. Only in that way shall we be 
rid of our poverty and of interminable famines. It can be 
seen at once that the periods by which we were able to 
measure our political and military victories do not apply 
here. Surrounded by hostile countries, we have, neverthe¬ 
less, pierced the blockade: no matter how meagre the help, 
we did get something. In all, it amounts to 2,500,000 poods. 
That is all the help that we have received from abroad, that 
the foreign countries graciously presented to starving Rus¬ 
sia. We were able to collect about 600,000 gold rubles in 



donations. It is a far too pitiful sum, and shows the mer¬ 
cenary attitude of the European bourgeoisie toward our 
famine. No doubt you have all read how, at the news of 
the famine, influential statesmen grandiloquently and so¬ 
lemnly declared that to take advantage of the famine in 
order to raise the question of old debts would be a devilish 
thing to do. I am not so sure that the devil is worse than 
modern imperialism. What I do know is that in actual fact, 
despite the famine, they did try to recover their old debts 
on particularly harsh conditions. We do not refuse to pay, 
and solemnly declare that we are prepared to discuss 
things in a business-like fashion. But you all understand, 
and there can be no doubt about this, that we shall never 
under any circumstances allow ourselves to be tied hand 
and foot in this matter without considering all its aspects, 
without taking into account reciprocal claims, without a 
business-like discussion. 

I have to inform you that during recent days we have 
had considerable success in the struggle against the famine. 
You have no doubt read in the newspapers that the U.S.A. 
has allocated 20 million dollars for the relief of the starving 
in Russia, probably on the same conditions as A.R.A.—the 
American Relief Administration. Krasin sent us a telegram 
a few days ago saying that the U.S. Government is formally 
proposing to guarantee the dispatch to us over a period of 
three months of foodstuffs and seeds worth 20 million dol¬ 
lars, provided we, on our part, can agree to the expenditure 
of 10 million dollars (20 million gold rubles) for the same 
purpose. We immediately agreed to this and have tele¬ 
graphed accordingly. And I think we may say that, during 
the first three months, we shall be able to supply the starv¬ 
ing with seed and food worth 30 million dollars, that is, 
60 million gold rubles. This is, of course, very little; it by 
no means covers the terrible losses we have suffered. You 
all understand this perfectly well. But at any rate this is 
aid which will undoubtedly help to relieve our desperate 
need and desperate famine. And since in autumn we were 
able to achieve certain successes in providing the starving 
areas with seed and in extending the sown areas in general, 
we now have hopes for far greater success in the spring. 

Pravda No. 292, 
December 25, 1921 

Collected Works , Vol. 33, 
pp. 143-55, 162 63 



(To Comrade Chicherin, a Copy to Comrade Radek 
and All Members of the Political Bureau) 

The telegram about the British Labour Party shows how 
extraordinarily naive Krasin is. As I see it, measures of two 
kinds should now be taken: 1) a series of articles signed by 
various people and ridiculing the views of so-called Eu¬ 
ropean democracy on the Georgian problem should be 
published in the press; 2) some caustic journalist should be 
immediately commissioned to draft for Chicherin a super- 
polite Note in reply to the British Labour Party. In this 
Note he should make it perfectly plain that the proposal 
that we withdraw our troops from Georgia and hold a 
referendum there would be quite reasonable and might be 
recognised as coming from people who have not gone out 
of their minds, and have not been bribed by the Entente, 
if it extended to all nations of the globe; specifically, in 
order to set the British Labour Party leaders thinking about 
the meaning of present-day imperialist relations in inter¬ 
national politics, we suggest, in particular, that that party 
give favourable consideration to the following: first, that 
British troops be withdrawn from Ireland and that a 
referendum be held there; second, the same with regard to 
India; third, the same with regard to the withdrawal of 
Japanese troops from Korea; fourth, the same with regard 
to all countries in which there are troops of any of the big 
imperialist states. The Note should express, in superbly 
polite terms, the idea that people desirous of giving thought 
to these proposals of ours and to the system of imperialist 
relations in international politics may prove capable of 



understanding the “interesting” nature of the proposals 
made by us to the British Labour Party. On the whole, the 
draft Note, couched in super-polite and extremely popular 
terms (to suit the intelligence of ten-year-olds), should 
deride the idiotic leaders of the British Labour Party. 

I propose that the Political Bureau consider whether it 
ought to send a copy of this letter to Krasin. I personally 
am in favour. 

December 27, 1921 


Dictated by telephone Collected Works, Vol. 33, 

on December 27, 1921 pp. 182-83 

First published in Prauda No.'21, 

January 21, 1930 




February 15, 1922 

Comrade Chicherin, 

A telegram from Krasin dated February 13 [File No. 
1466/c) says (Lloyd George): “If the Soviet Government 
refuses to recognise the Cannes resolutions 134 that will 
threaten the break-down of the entire conference and will, 
in any case, make it easier for Poincare to walk out... 

This is formulated more “threateningly” than accurately! 

But the whole British press, judging by our papers, has 
made frequent statements to the effect that the invitation 
to the Cannes* Conference does not require and never has 
required the preliminary acceptance of the Cannes terms 
and that the contrary opinion held by the French is an 
incorrect one. 

All the material must be collected to establish precise 
and formally indisputable facts. 

It seems to me that three facts are indisputable: 

(1) when we were invited it was not required that we 
make a precise, clear and formal declaration of the 
acceptance of the Cannes terms; 

(2) we did not make any such declaration in our reply, 
and we have not been informed that our reply is incomplete ; 

(3) the entire British press in its dispute with the French 
recognised that the preliminary acceptance of the Cannes 
terms is not obligatory. 

With Communist greetings, 


First published in 1959 Published according to the 

in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI text of the Miscellany 

* This is a slip in the manuscript—the Genoa Conference is 
meant.— Ed. 



From a Speech Delivered to a Meeting of the Communist 
Group at the All-Russia Congress of Metalworkers, 

March 6, 1922 135 

Of course, comrades, you all know that Genoa 136 remains 
in the forefront of the problems of our international 
politics. I am not very sure that it does so legitimately, for 
when we say “Genoa” we mean the Conference that every¬ 
body long, ago heard about, the Conference that was to 
have taken place in Genoa, Italy. The preparations for it 
had been almost completed; but now, unfortunately, the 
situation is so indefinite that nobody knows (and I am 
afraid that even the initiators and organisers themselves 
do not know) whether there is much chance of its taking 
place or not. At all events, we must say to ourselves, and 
to all those who have any interest in the destiny of the 
workers’ and peasants’ republic, that our position on this 
question, that is, on the question of the Genoa Conference, 
has been absolutely firm from the very beginning, and 
remains so. It is not our fault if certain people lack not 
only firmness but even the most elementary determination, 
the most elementary ability to carry out their own plans. 
From the very beginning we declared that we welcomed 
Genoa and would attend it. We understood perfectly well 
and did not in the least conceal the fact that we were going 
there as merchants, because trade with capitalist countries 
(as long as they have not entirely collapsed) is absolutely 
essential to us; we realised that we were going to Genoa 



to bargain for the most proper and most advantageous 
and politically suitable terms for this trade, and nothing 
more. This is by no means a secret to those capitalist 
countries whose governments drew up the first plan for 
the Genoa Conference and got it going. Those countries 
know perfectly well that the list of commercial agreements 
linking us with different capitalist states is growing longer 
and longer, that the number of practical transactions is 
increasing, and that we are now discussing in the greatest 
detail a huge number of joint Russian and foreign com¬ 
mercial projects between the most diverse combinations 
of foreign countries and various branches of our industry. 
Thus, the capitalist states are well aware of the practical 
basis of what is mainly to be discussed at Genoa. And this 
basis has a superstructure consisting of all sorts of political 
talk, assumptions and projects, but we must realise that 
it is only a little one, largely artificial, designed and erected 
by those who are interested in it. 

It goes without saying that during the more than four 
years’ existence of Soviet power we have acquired sufficient 
practical experience (apart from the fact that we are 
already quite familiar with it in theory) to enable us to 
appraise correctly the diplomatic game the gentlemen who 
represent the bourgeois countries are today playing accord¬ 
ing to all the rules of the obsolete art of bourgeois 
diplomacy. We know perfectly well what lies at the bottom 
of this game; we know that it is trade. The bourgeois 
countries must trade with Russia; they know that unless 
they establish some form of economic relations their dis¬ 
integration will continue in the way it has proceeded up to 
now. Notwithstanding all their magnificent victories, 
notwithstanding the. endless boasting with which they fill 
the newspapers and telegraph services of the whole world, 
their economy is falling to pieces. And after more than 
three years of effort, after their great victories, they cannot 
cope with the very simple task of restoring the old, let 
alone building anything new, and are still racking their 
brains over the problem of how to get together and form 
some combination of three, four, or five (the number is so 
large, you see, that it is frightfully difficult to reach an 
agreement) so as to be able to trade. 



I can understand that Communists need time to learn to 
trade, and I know that those who are learning will be 
making the crudest of mistakes for several years; but 
history will forgive them because they are entirely new to 
the business. For this purpose we must make our thinking 
more flexible, and must discard all communist, or rather 
Russian, Oblomovism, and much more besides. But it is 
strange for representatives of bourgeois countries to have 
to learn the trading business all over again, after they 
have been engaged in it for hundreds of years, and when 
the whole of their social life is based upon it. Incidentally, 
it should not seem so strange to us. For a long time we 
have been saying, and we always knew, that their appraisal 
of the imperialist war was less correct than ours. They 
appraised it from what they could see directly in front of 
them, and three years after their tremendous victories they 
still cannot find a way out of the situation. 

We Communists said that our appraisal of the war was 
more profound and correct; that its contradictions and its 
disasters would have a far broader impact than the capi¬ 
talist countries imagined. And, looking at the bourgeois 
victor countries from outside, we said: they will recall our 
forecast and our appraisal of the war and its consequences 
more than once. The fact that they do not understand the 
simplest things does not surprise us. But we nevertheless 
say, “We must trade with the capitalist countries as long as 
they exist.” We shall negotiate with them as merchants; and 
the fact we can do so is proved by the increasing number 
of trade agreements we are signing and negotiating with 
them. But we cannot publish them until they are signed. 
From the commercial point of view we, of course, have 
to agree when a capitalist merchant comes to us and says, 
“This deal must remain between ourselves until the negotia¬ 
tions are completed.” We, however, know how many agree¬ 
ments are in course of preparation—the list alone fills 
several pages, and it includes scores of practical proposals 
that have been discussed in detail with important financial 
groups. Of course, the gentlemen representing the bourgeois 
countries gathering at Genoa are as well aware of this as 
we are; whatever the position may be as regards other 
matters, contacts between these governments and their 



capitalist firms have, of course, been maintained. Even 
they are not so terribly lax as not to know of this. 

Since in foreign telegrams we are continually reading 
statements which create the impression that they do not 
know exactly what will take place at Genoa, that they have 
something new up their sleeve, that they want to astonish 
the world by submitting new terms to Russia, permit me 
to say to them (and I hope I shall have the opportunity 
of saying it to Lloyd George personally, at Genoa): “You 
will not surprise anyone by this, gentlemen. You are 
businessmen, and you know your job well. We are only just 
learning to trade and are still clumsy at it. But we have 
tens and hundreds of agreements and draft agreements, 
which show how we trade and what transactions we 
conduct or shall conduct, and on what terms.” And we 
smile quietly to ourselves when we read in the newspapers 
all sorts of reports—published for the purpose of scaring 
someone—to the effect that they intend to put us to some 
sort of test. We have been threatened often enough, and 
with much more serious threats than those uttered by 
the merchant who intends to slam the door after making 
his last offer. We have been threatened with the guns of 
the Allied powers that rule almost the whole world. We 
were not frightened by those threats. Please, gentlemen, 
European diplomats, do not forget that. 

We are not in the least concerned about maintaining 
our diplomatic prestige, the good name to which the bour¬ 
geois states attach so much importance. Officially, we shall 
not even talk about it. But we have not forgotten it. Not 
one of our workers, not one of our peasants has forgotten, 
can forget, or ever will forget that he fought in defence 
of the workers’ and peasants’ government against the 
alliance of all those very powerful states that supported 
the intervention. We have a whole collection of treaties 
which those countries concluded with Kolchak and Denikin 
over a number of years. They have been published; we are 
familiar with them and the whole world is familiar with 
them. What is the use of playing hide-and-seek and pretend¬ 
ing that we have all become Simple Simons? Every 
peasant and every worker knows that he fought against 
those countries, and that they failed to vanquish him. And 



if you gentlemen, who represent the bourgeois govern¬ 
ments, care to amuse yourselves, to waste your paper (of 
which you have ever so much more than you need) and 
your ink, and to overload your cables and radio stations 
with messages announcing to the whole world: “We shall 
put Russia to the test”, we shall see who comes off best. 
We have already been put to the test, not the test of words, 
not the test of trade, not the test of money, but the test 
of the bludgeon. And in view of the severe, bleeding and 
painful wounds inflicted on us, we have earned that it be 
said of us—not by ourselves, but by our enemies—“A man 
who has been beaten is worth two who have not.” 

We have earned this on the field of battle. As far 
as trade is concerned, it is a pity that we Communists 
are not being thrashed enough, but I trust that this 
defect will be made good in the near future with equal 

I said that I hope to discuss these subjects with Lloyd 
George personally, in Genoa, and to tell him that it is no 
use trying to frighten us with such trivialities because it 
will only damage the prestige of those who try it. I hope 
that I shall not be prevented from doing this by ill health, 
which during the past few months has prevented me from 
taking a direct part in political affairs, and which totally 
incapacitates me for the Soviet duties which I have been 
appointed to perform. I have reason to believe that I shall 
be able to return to my duties within a few weeks. But will 
three or four of them succeed within the next few weeks 
in reaching an agreement on what they have informed the 
world they are already agreed, upon9 I am not sure about 
that. I even dare assert that nobody in the world is sure 
about it, and what is more, that they themselves are not 
sure, because when these victorious powers, which rule the 
whole world, gathered at Cannes after numerous prelimi¬ 
nary conferences—the number of these conferences is 
infinite, and even the European bourgeois press is jeering— 
they could not say definitely what they wanted. 

From the point of view of practical tasks and not that 
bf a diplomatic game, therefore. Comrade Trotsky has 
defined the position more correctly than anybody else. 
The day after the news was received that all the arrange- 


ments for Genoa had been made, that everything had been 
settled, the complete agreement had been reached about 
Genoa and that it was only the instability of one of the 
bourgeois governments (they seem to have become suspi¬ 
ciously unstable these days) that necessitated the temporary 
postponement of the Conference, he issued the following 
order: “Let every man of the Red Army get a clear un¬ 
derstanding of the international situation. We know 
definitely that there is a permanent group over there who 
want to try their hand at intervention. We shall be on the 
alert. Let every man of the Red Army know all about the 
diplomatic game and what is meant by force of arms, 
which, up to now, has decided all class conflicts.” 

Let every man of the Red Army know all about this 
game and what is meant by force of arms, and then we 
shall see what happens. No matter how shaky capitalism 
may have become in all capitalist countries, many quite 
influential parties may still try their hand at this game. 
And if the governments are so unstable that they cannot 
convene a conference at the date set for it, who knows 
whose hands they will fall into? We know that in those 
countries there are influential parties and influential 
persons and business magnates who want war. We are 
perfectly well aware of this, and we are well informed of 
what really lies at the bottom of economic treaties. We 
have endured exceptional hardship, and we know what 
misfortune and suffering a fresh attempt at war must 
entail for us. But we say we shall be able to stand it again — 
just try and do it! When Comrade Trotsky issued his definite 
order instead of publishing opinions about the diplomatic 
game, he had drawn the conclusion that we must again 
explain the international situation to every man of the Red 
Army, and tell him that the postponement of the Genoa 
Conference, owing to the instability of the Italian Cabinet, 
is a danger signal of war. We shall see to it that every man 
of the Red Army understands this. It will be easy for us to 
do this because there is hardly a family, hardly a man of 
the Red Army in Russia who does not know this, not only 
from newspapers, circulars and orders, but from his own 
village, where he hak seen cripples, and knows families 
that have gone through this war, where he sees crop failures, 



appalling hunger and ruin, hellish poverty, and knows what 
causes them—even though he does not read the Paris 
publications of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries 
which attribute all this to the malignant nature of the 
Bolsheviks. There can scarcely be a desire so deeply 
ingrained in him as the desire to repel (to say the least) 
those who forced upon us the war waged by Kolchak and 
Denikin and supported it. There is no need for us to ap¬ 
point new agitation and propaganda commissions for this 

In respect of the Genoa Conference we must distinguish 
exactly between its real nature and the newspaper canards 
circulated by the bourgeoisie. They think that these 
canards are frightful bombs, but they do not frighten us, 
because we have seen so many of them; and sometimes 
they do not deserve answering even with a smile. Every 
attempt to impose terms upon us as if we were vanquished 
is so very foolish that it is not worthy of a reply. We are 
establishing relations as merchants; we know what you owe 
us and what we owe you; and we know what your legitimate 
profit and even your super-profit may be. We get many 
proposals, and the number of agreements we are conclud¬ 
ing is growing and will continue to grow, no matter how 
three or four of the victor powers combine. You will lose 
by this postponement of the Conference, because you will 
show your own people that you do not know what you 
want, and that the disease you are suffering from is lack 
of will power, and a failure to understand economics and 
politics, which we have appraised more profoundly than 
you. It will soon be ten years since we made this ap¬ 
praisal, and all the ruin and disorder that has occurred 
since then is still not understood by the bourgeois 

We already see clearly the position that has taken shape 
in our country, and we can say with full conviction that 
we can now stop the retreat we began, we are already 
stopping it. Enough! We clearly realise that the New 
Economic Policy is a retreat, and we do not conceal it. 
We grasped more than we could hold, but such is the 
logic of the struggle. Those of you who remember what 
the position was in October 1917, or those of you who 



were politically immature at the time and have learned 
since what the position was in 1917, know what a large 
number of compromise proposals we Bolsheviks made to 
the bourgeoisie at that time. “Gentlemen, your affairs are 
in a bad way,” we said, “we shall be in power, however, 
and will remain in power. Wouldn’t you like to consider 
how you could settle things without a rumpus, as the 
muzhik would say?” We know that there was not only a 
rumpus, but attempts at rebellion, which the Mensheviks 
and Socialist-Revolutionaries instigated and supported. 
Formerly they said: “We are prepared to surrender power 
to the Soviets right now ” A few days ago I read an 
article by Kerensky, who opposed Chernov in a Paris 
journal (there’s lots of that stuff there). “Did we cling to 
power?” asked Kerensky. “Even at the time of the Dem¬ 
ocratic Conference I said that if anyone could be found 
to form a homogeneous government, power would be 
transferred to the new government without the slightest 

We have never refused to take power alone. We said 
that as early as June 1917, 137 and took power at the 
Congress of Soviets in October 1917. We Bolsheviks 
obtained a majority at that Congress of Soviets. Then 
Kerensky appealed to the officer cadets, rushed off to 
Krasnov and wanted to muster an army to march on 
Petrograd. We knocked them about a bit, and now they 
say in an offended tone, “You are insolent, you are 
usurpers, butchers!” And we say in reply, “You have only 
yourselves to blame, friends! Do not imagine that the 
Russian peasants and workers have forgotten what you 
did. In October you challenged us to the most desperate 
fight, and we retaliated with terror and redoubled terror; 
and we shall adopt terror again if necessary, if you try it 
again” Not a single worker, not a single peasant doubts 
the need for it. No one doubts it but whimpering intellec¬ 

Under conditions of unheard-of economic hardship we 
were compelled to wage war against an enemy whose 
forces were a hundred times superior to ours. It goes with¬ 
out Saying that under these circumstances we were obliged 
to go to greater lengths in our urgent communist measures 



than would otherwise have been the case; we were forced 
to do it. Our enemies thought they could finish us off; 
they thought they could bring us to our knees, not in 
words, but in deeds. They said they would not make any 
concessions. We replied that if they thought we dare not 
resort to the most extreme communist measures they were 
mistaken. And we did dare; we did it, and we won. Now 
we say we cannot hold these positions, we are retreating, 
because we have won enough to be able to hold essential 
positions. All the whiteguards, headed by the Mensheviks 
and Socialist-Revolutionaries, wax jubilant and say, “Aha, 
you are retreating!” We say, “Rejoice, since it puts you 
in good humour.” We stand to gain if our enemy pats 
himself on the back instead of engaging in practical work. 
Rejoice, you are only putting us in a more favourable 
position by deceiving yourselves with illusions. We have 
captured vast positions, and had we not captured them in 
the period from 1917 to 1921 we would have had no room 
to retreat, geographically, economically or politically. We 
are maintaining power in alliance with the peasantry, and 
if you reject terms offered you before a war, you get 
worse terms after the war. This is definitely recorded in 
the diplomatic, economic and political history of the 
period 1917-21, so that we are not boasting at all. It is a 
plain statement of fact, a simple reminder. Had the capital¬ 
ist gentlemen accepted the proposals we made to them in 
October 1917, they would have had five times as much as 
they have now. You fought for three years. What have 
you gained by it? Do you want to figln again? We know 
perfectly well that by no means all of you want to fight. 
On the other hand, we know that in view of the desperate 
famine and the present state of industry, we cannot hold 
all the positions we won in the period 1917-21. We have 
surrendered a number of them. But we can now say that, 
so far as making concessions to the capitalists is concerned , 
the retreat is at an end. We have weighed up our own 
forces and those of the capitalists. We have done some 
reconnoitring by way of concluding agreements with Rus¬ 
sian and foreign capitalists, and we say—and I hope, I 
am sure, that the Party Congress will say the same, 
officially, on behalf of the ruling party of Russia—“We 



can now stop our economic retreat. Enough ! We shall not 
retreat any further ; we shall set about deploying and 
regrouping our forces properly.” 

When I say that we are halting our economic retreat I 
do not want to suggest that I have for a moment forgotten 
the hellishly difficult conditions in which we find our¬ 
selves; nor do I want to soothe or console you on that 
score. The question of the limits of the retreat, and of 
whether we are stopping the retreat or not, is not one of 
the difficulties that confront us. We are aware of these 
difficulties. We know what famine in a peasant country 
like Russia means. We know that we have not yet suc¬ 
ceeded in alleviating the sufferings caused by the famine. 
We know what a financial crisis means in a country which 
is compelled to trade and where paper currency has been 
issued on a scale such as the world has never seen before. 
We are well aware of these difficulties and fully appreciate 
their immensity. I am not afraid to say that they are 
tremendous. This does not frighten us in the least. On the 
contrary, we gain strength from saying openly to the 
workers and peasants that these are the difficulties that 
confront us; this is the danger with which the Western 
powers threaten us. Let us work and weigh up our tasks 
soberly. The fact that we are stopping our retreat does not 
mean that we are not aware of the dangers. We look them 
straight in the face. “This,” we say, “is where the main 
danger lies; we must alleviate the sufferings caused by 
the famine. We have not done so yet. We have not yet 
overcome the financial crisis.” Hence, you must not 
interpret what I say about halting the retreat to mean that 
we think that we have already laid the foundation (of our 
new economy) and that we can now calmly advance. No, 
the foundation has not yet been laid. We still cannot look 
calmly to the future. We are surrounded by threats of war, 
about which I have said enough, and by still greater 
internal dangers, economic dangers within the country; 
these are the frightful state of ruin of the peasantry, the 
famine, and our disrupted finances. These dangers are very 
great. They call for tremendous effort on our part. But if 
we are forced to go to war, we shall be able to fight. If 
will not be easy for them to fight, either. It was easy for 



them to start war in 1918 and as easy to continue it in 
1919. But much water, and blood, and many other things 
have flowed under the bridge since then. The Western 
workers and peasants have changed since 1919. And it is 
impossible to fool them by saying, “We are fighting the 
Germans; the Bolsheviks are nothing more than German 
agents.” We do not become panic-stricken over our eco¬ 
nomic situation. Today we have scores of agreements 
concluded with Russian and foreign capitalists. We know 
what difficulties lay and still lie before us. We know why 
the Russian capitalists consented to conclude these agree¬ 
ments. We know on what terms these agreements were 
concluded. The majority of the capitalists concluded the 
agreements as practical men, as merchants. We, too, are 
acting as merchants. But every merchant takes some ac¬ 
count of politics. If he is a merchant from a not altogether 
barbarous country, he will not enter into transactions with 
a government unless it shows considerable signs of stability, 
unless it is very reliable. The merchant who did such a 
thing would not be a merchant, but a fool. Most merchants 
are not fools, for the logic of the commercial struggle 
eliminates the fools. If, formerly, the text was, “Denikin 
has beaten you, now show that you can beat Denikin”, 
today the text is, “If the merchant has beaten you, prove 
that you can compel him to do business”. We have proved 
it. We have already concluded a number of agreements 
with very big capitalist firms, both Russian and West-Eu- 
ropean. We know what they are after, they know what we 
are after. 

Today the object of our activities has changed somewhat. 
That is exactly what I want to say a few words about, to 
supplement my already somewhat lengthy report. 

In view of the fact that the Genoa situation is precarious 
and the end of the wavering is not in sight, and because 
we have made so many concessions in our domestic policy, 
we must now say: “ Enough! No more concessions!” The 
capitalist gentlemen think that they can dally, and the 
longer they dally the more concessions they will get, but 
we must say, “ Enough! Tomorrow you will get nothing .” 
If they have not learned anything from the history of 


Soviet power and its victories, they can do as they please. 
For our part we have done all we could and have informed 
the whole world about it. I hope the Congress will confirm 
the fact that we shall not retreat any further. The retreat 
has come to an end, and, in consequence of that, the 
nature of our work is changing. 

Pravda No. 54, 

March 8, 1922 

Collected Works, 
Vol. 33, pp. 212-23 


MARCH 27-APRIL 2, 1922 



(Applause.) Comrades, permit me to start the political 
report of the Central Committee from the end and not from 
the beginning of the year. The political question most 
discussed today is Genoa. But since a great deal has 
already been said on the subject in our press, and since I 
have already said what is most essential to it in my speech 
on March 6, which has been published, I would ask you to 
permit me to refrain from going into details unless you 
particularly*wish me to do so. 

On the whole you know everything about Genoa, because 
much has been written about it in the newspapers—in my 
opinion too much, to the detriment of the real, practical 
and urgent requirements of our work of construction in 
general, and of our economic development in particular. 
In Europe, in all bourgeois countries, of course, they like 
to occupy people’s minds, or stuff their heads, with all 
sorts of trash about Genoa. On this occasion (I would say 
not only on this occasion) we are copying them, and 
copying them far too much. 

I must say that in the Central Committee we have taken 
very great pains to appoint a delegation of our best 
diplomats (we now have a fair number of Soviet diplomats, 
which was not the case in the early period of the Soviet 
Republic). The Central Committee has drawn up sufficiently 
detailed instructions for our diplomats at the Genoa 
Conference; we spent a long time discussing these instruc¬ 
tions and considered and reconsidered them several times. 



It goes without saying that the question here is, I shall not 
say of war, because that term is likely to be misunderstood, 
but at all events one of rivalry. In the bourgeois camp 
there is a very strong trend, much stronger than any other, 
that wants to wreck the Genoa Conference. There are 
trends which greatly favour the Genoa Conference and want 
it to meet at all costs. The latter have now gained the upper 
hand. Lastly, in all bourgeois countries there are trends 
which might be called pacifist trends, among which should 
be included the entire Second and Two-and-a-Half Interna¬ 
tionals. It is this section of the bourgeoisie which is 
advocating a number of pacifist proposals and is trying to 
concoct something in the nature of a pacifist policy. As 
Communists we have definite views about this pacifism 
which it would be superfluous to expound here. Needless 
to say, we are going to Genoa not as Communists, but as 
merchants. We must trade, and they must trade. We want 
the trade to benefit us; they want it to benefit them, The 
course of the issue will be determined, if only to a small 
degree, by the skill of our diplomats. 

Insofar as we are going to Genoa as merchants it is 
obviously by no means a matter of indifference to us 
whether we shall deal with those people from the bourgeois 
camp who are inclined to settle the problem by war, or 
with those who are inclined towards pacifism, even the 
worst kind of pacifism, which from the communist view¬ 
point will not stand the slightest criticism. It would be a 
bad merchant, indeed, if he were unable to appreciate this 
distinction, and, by shaping his tactics accordingly, achieve 
practical aims. 

We are going to Genoa for the practical purpose of 
expanding trade and of creating the most favourable 
conditions for its successful development on the widest 
scale. But we cannot guarantee the success of the Genoa 
Conference. It would be ridiculous and absurd to give any 
guarantees on that score. I must say, however, that, weigh¬ 
ing up the present possibilities of Genoa in the most sober 
and cautious manner, I think that it will not be an exag¬ 
geration to say that we shall achieve our object. 

Through Genoa, if the other parties in the negotiations 
are sufficiently shrewd and not too stubborn; bypassing 



Genoa if they take it into their heads to be stubborn. But 
we shall achieve our goal! 

The fact of the matter is that the most urgent, pressing 
and practical interests that have been sharply revealed in 
all the capitalist countries during the past few years call 
for the development, regulation and expansion of trade 
with Russia. Since such interests exist, we may argue, we 
may quarrel, we may disagree on specific combinations— 
it is highly probable that we shall have to disagree—this 
fundamental economic necessity will, nevertheless, after 
all is said and done, make a way for itself. I think we can 
rest assured of that. I cannot vouch for the date; I cannot 
vouch for success; but at this gathering we can say with 
a fair amount of certainty that regular trade relations be¬ 
tween the Soviet Republic and all the capitalist countries 
in the world are certain to continue developing. When I 
come to it in another part of my report I shall mention 
the hitches that may possibly occur; but I think that this 
is all that need be said on the question of Genoa. 

Needless to say, the comrades who desire to study the 
question in greater detail and who are not content with the 
list of delegates published in the newspapers may set up a 
commission, or a section, and acquaint themselves with all 
the material of the Central Committee, and all the corre¬ 
spondence and instructions. Of course, the details we have 
outlined are provisional, for no one up to now knows 
exactly who will sit round the table at Genoa, and what 
terms, or preliminary terms or provisions will be announced. 
It would be highly inexpedient, and I think practically 
impossible, to discuss all this here. I repeat, this Congress, 
through the medium of a section, or a commission, has 
every opportunity to collect all the documents on this 
question—both the published documents and those in the 
possession of the Central Committee. 

I shall not say any more, for I am sure that it is not 
here that our greatest difficulties lie. This is not the question 
on which the attention of the whole Party should be 
focussed. The European bourgeois press is artificially and 
deliberately inflating and exaggerating the importance of 
this Conference in order to deceive the masses of the work¬ 
ing people (as nine-tenths of the bourgeois press in all 


these free democratic countries and republics always does). 
We have succumbed to the influence of this press to some 
extent. As usual, our press still yields to the old bourgeois 
habits; it refuses to adopt new, socialist methods, and we 
have made a greater fuss about this subject than it deserves. 
In fact, for Communists, especially for those who have 
lived through such stern years as we have lived through 
since 1917, and witnessed the formidable political combina¬ 
tions that have appeared in that period, Genoa does not 
present any great difficulties. I cannot recall any disagree¬ 
ment or controversy on this question either in the Central 
Committee or in the ranks of the Party. This is natural, 
for there is nothing controversial here from the point of 
view of Communists, even bearing in mind the various 
shades of opinion among them. I repeat: we are going to 
Genoa as merchants for the purpose of securing the most 
favourable terms for promoting the trade which has 
started, which is being carried on, and which, even if 
someone succeeded in forcibly interrupting it for a time, 
would inevitably continue to develop after the interruption. 

Published in 1922 in Odinnadtsaty Collected Works, Voi. 33, 

sgezd R.K.P.fB.). Stenografichesky pp. 263-66 

otchot {Eleventh Congress of the 
Russian Communist Party [Bolsheviks], 

Verbatim Report), Moscow, Publishing 
Department of the Central Committee 
of the R.C.P. 




The All-Russia Central Executive Committee’s draft 
resolution on Joffe’s report should be drawn up approxi¬ 
mately as follows: 

1. The delegation of the All-Russia Central Executive 
Committee has carried out its task correctly in upholding 
the full sovereignty of the R.S.F.S.R., opposing attempts 
to force the country into bondage and restore private prop¬ 
erty, and in concluding a treaty with Germany. 139 

2. The international political and economic situation is 
characterised by the following features. 

Political: the absence of peace and the danger of fresh 
imperialist wars (Ireland, India, China and others; worsen¬ 
ing of relations between Britain and France, between 
Japan and the United States, etc., etc. ((in greater detail))}. 

3. Economic: the “victor” countries, exceedingly power¬ 
ful and enriched by the war (=by plunder), have not been 
able to re-establish even the former capitalist relations 
three and a half years after the war (currency chaos; non- 
fulfilment of the Treaty of Versailles and the impossibility 
of its fulfilment; non-payment of debts to the United 
States, etc., etc. {in greater detail)]. 

4. Therefore, Article One of the Cannes resolutions, by 
recognising the equality of the two property systems 
(capitalist or private property, and communist property, 
so far accepted only in the R.S.F.S.R.), is thus compelled 
to recognise, even if only indirectly, the collapse, the bank- 


ruptcy of the first property system and the inevitability 
of its coming to an agreement with the second, on terms 
of equality. 

5. The other articles of the Cannes terms, as well as 
the memoranda, etc., of the powers at Genoa, are in 
contradiction to this and are, therefore, still born. 

6. True equality of the two property systems— if only as 
a temporary state, until such time as the entire world 
abandons private property and the economic chaos and 
wars engendered by it for the higher property system—is 
found only in the Treaty of Rapallo. 

The All-Russia Central Executive Committee, therefore: 
welcomes the Treaty of Rapallo as the only correct way 
out of the difficulties, chaos and danger of wars (as long 
as there remain two property systems, one of them as 
obsolete as capitalist property); 

recognises only this type of treaty as normal for relations 
between the R.S.F.S.R. and capitalist countries; 

instructs the Council of People’s Commissars and the 
People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs to pursue a policy 
along these lines; 

instructs the Presidium of the All-Russia Central Execu¬ 
tive Committee to confirm it by agreement with all 
republics that are in federal relations with the R.S.F.S.R.: 

instructs the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs 
and the Council of People’s Commissars to permit devia¬ 
tions from the Rapallo-type treaty only in exceptional 
circumstances that gain very special advantages for the 
working people of the R.S.F.S.R., etc. 

Written on May 15 or 16, 1922 
Published for the first time 
in the Fourth Russian edition 
of the Collected Works 

Collected Works , Vol. 33, 
pp. 356 57 



l. Question. The anti-Russian press describes Herriot’s reception 
in Moscow and the Franco-Russian negotiations as a definite change 
in Soviet Russia’s foreign policy. 

Is that true? Is it true that Russia regards British policy in the 
Middle East as a challenge and is ready to conclude an agreement 
with France directed against Britain? 

Answer. I consider it absolutely incorrect to describe 
Herriot’s reception in Moscow and the Franco-Russian 
negotiations 140 as a change, even a slight one, in Soviet 
Russia’s policy in general, or as being anti-British in partic¬ 
ular. We certainly value very highly both Herriot’s recep¬ 
tion in Moscow and the step taken towards a rapproche¬ 
ment with France or towards negotiations with her, which 
have now become possible, probable and, I should like to 
believe, essential. Any rapprochement with France is some¬ 
thing we very much desire, especially in view of the fact 
that Russia’s commercial interests imperatively demand 
closer relations with this strong continental power. But we 
are convinced that this rapprochement does not in the 
least imply that some change must necessarily take place 
in our policy towards Britain. We believe fully friendly 
relations with both powers to be quite possible, and that 
is our aim. We believe that the development of commercial 
relations will inevitably go a very long way towards 
achieving this aim. We believe that the interests of Britain 
and France, rightly understood, will likewise operate in 
that direction. We believe that the mutual interests of both 



Britain and France, insofar as they have points of contact 
with Russia, do not under any circumstances contain 
elements of inevitable hostility between Britain and France. 
On the contrary, we even think that peaceful and friendly 
relations between these powers and Russia are a guarantee 
(I am almost prepared to say—the strongest guarantee) 
that peace and friendship between Britain and France will 
last a long time, and that all possible, and under present 
circumstances probable, differences between France and 
Britain will most speedily and truly find a happy solution. 

2. Question. Is not the virtual termination of the Greco-Turkish 
War, a war supported by Britain, an opportune moment for the con¬ 
clusion of an Anglo-Russian agreement? 

Answer. Of course, the termination of the Greco-Turkish 
War, which had Britain’s support, is a factor that, to a 
certain extent, improves the chances of an Anglo-Russian 
agreement being concluded. We looked for such an agree¬ 
ment even before that war ended and shall now continue 
to seek it with the utmost energy. True, some of the 
problems connected with the termination of that war are 
objects of our disagreement with Britain. But, first of all, 
the peace which has followed the Greco-Turkish War is in 
our opinion such an advantage to international politics as 
a whole that we hope for an improvement in the general 
conditions under which they are conducted, thanks to the 
Greco-Turkish peace. Secondly, we do not consider the 
differences between Britain and ourselves to be in any way 
insurmountable. On the contrary, we expect that, with the 
Middle East problem entering various stages, the near 
future will show us to what extent we are right in hoping 
that the end of the Greco-Turkish War will also be the end 
of the conflicts and differences which placed that war in 
the forefront of international politics. We are doing every¬ 
thing in our power to make the end of that war also the 
end of all friction and disagreement with Britain, and we 
hope that the interests of the British Government will rise 
on this occasion, too, above any promptings and the fre¬ 
quently insincere utterances of the anti-Russian press. 

3. Question. Do you consider Russia’s participation in the eastern 
question a matter of prestige alone, or do you proceed exclusively 
from Russia’s real interests? Does the Russian Government agree to 



the French proposal to permiL Russia’s participation in only that part 
of the Conference that will decide the question of the Straits? 

Answer. I consider Russia’s participation in the settle¬ 
ment of the Middle East question 141 to have nothing to do 
with prestige. I hope that our international politics as a 
whole over a period of five years have shown completely 
that we are quite indifferent to questions of prestige and 
that we are incapable of putting forward any demand what¬ 
soever or of worsening the real chances of peace between 
states solely on account of prestige. I am confident that 
in no other country are the masses so indifferent to prestige 
and even so prepared to treat the question of prestige as 
such with happy ridicule. We are of the opinion that 
modern diplomacy will rapidly come to regard questions 
of prestige precisely in this way. 

Our Middle East policy is a matter of Russia’s most real, 
immediate and vital interest and of the interest of a number 
of states federated with her. If all these states did not 
succeed in getting their demand to participate in the 
Middle East Conference satisfied, there would remain a 
huge mass of elements of hostility, conflict and discontent; 
their non-participation would involve such difficulties in 
purely commercial affairs between Eastern Europe on the 
one hand, and all other states on the other, that either 
there would remain no grounds whatever for peaceful 
coexistence or such existence would be extraordinarily 

The Russian Government, therefore, is not satisfied with 
the proposal from Paris to allow Russia to participate only 
in that part of the Conference which will settle the problem 
of the Straits. We are of the opinion that such a limitation 
would inevitably lead to a number of very practical, im¬ 
mediate inconveniences, in particular economic inconven¬ 
iences, from which France and Britain would themselves 
suffer, most probably in the near future. 

4. Question. What is the Russian programme for the solution of 
the Straits problem? 

Answer. Our Straits programme (still only approximate, 
of course) contains, among other things, the following: 



First, the satisfaction of Turkey’s national aspirations. 
We consider this essential, and not only in the interests of 
national independence. Our five years’ experience in set¬ 
tling the national question in a country that contains a 
tremendous number of nationalities such as could hardly 
be found in any other country, gives us the full conviction 
that under such circumstances the only correct attitude to 
the interests of nations is to meet those interests in full and 
provide conditions that exclude any possibility of conflicts 
on that score. Our experience has left us with the firm 
conviction that only exclusive attention to the interests of 
various nations can remove grounds for conflicts, can 
remove mutual mistrust, can remove the fear of any intri¬ 
gues and create that confidence, especially on the part of 
workers and peasants speaking different languages, with¬ 
out which there absolutely cannot be peaceful relations 
between peoples or anything like a successful deve¬ 
lopment of everything that is of value in present-day 

Secondly, our programme includes the closing of the 
Straits to all warships in times of peace and of war. This 
is in the direct commercial interests of all powers, not 
only of those whose territory is in the immediate vicinity 
of the Straits, but of all others, too. It must be remembered 
that all over the world there has been an inordinate amount 
of pacifist talk, an unusual number of pacifist phrases and 
assurances, and even vows against war and against peace, 
although there is usually little preparedness on the part 
of the majority of states, especially on the part of the 
modern civilised states, to take any realistic steps, even 
the most simple, to ensure peace. On this, and on similar 
questions, we should like to see a minimum of general 
assurances, solemn promises and grandiloquent formulas, 
and the greatest possible number of the simplest and most 
obvious decisions and measures that would certainly lead 
to peace, if not to the complete elimination of the war 

Thirdly, our programme on the Straits includes complete 
freedom of commerce by sea. After what I have said above 
I do not think it at all necessary to explain this point or 
make it more concrete. 



5. Question. Would the Russian Government agree to the League 
of Nations controlling the Straits if the League were to include in 
its composition Russia, Turkey, Germany and the United States? 

Or would Russia insist on the establishment of a special commis¬ 
sion to control the Straits? 

Answer. We are, of course, opposed to the League of 
Nations, and I do not think that it is only our economic 
and political system with its specific features that accounts 
for our negative attitude towards the League; the interests 
of peace, regarded from the point of view of the concrete 
conditions of modern international politics in general, also 
fully justify that negative attitude. The League of Nations 
bears so many marks of its world war origin, it is so 
intimately bound up with the Versailles Treaty and is so 
marked by the absence of anything resembling the estab¬ 
lishment of the real equality of rights between nations, 
anything resembling a real chance of their peaceful coex¬ 
istence, that I think our negative attitude to the League 
can be appreciated and does not stand in need of further 

6. Question. Does the refusal to ratify the agreement with Urquhart 
mean a victory of the “Left Communists”? What are the objective 
conditions which would make possible a resumption of negotiations 
and the ratification of the agreement with Urquhart? 

Answer. The question of concluding an agreement with 
Urquhart was raised by our government when I was ill 
and was unable to take part in affairs of state. Therefore 
I am not yet fully informed of all the details of this 
matter. Nevertheless I can assert quite definitely that there 
is not, nor can there now be, any question of a victory 
for the Left Communists. I know this from my direct 
observation of the course of government affairs. 

The fact of the matter is that Britain’s act of injustice, 
expressed in her unwillingness to admit us to the Confer¬ 
ence, was so unexpected, aroused such indignation in 
Russia and so firmly united not only the Right with the 
Left Communists but also united the huge mass of the 
non-Party population of Russia, the workers and peasants, 
that things did not and could not reach the point of 
disagreement between the Left and Right Communists. 



The reason given for our rejection of the Urquhart agree¬ 
ment was a direct expression, one may say, not only of the 
general Party sentiment but of that of the entire people, 
i.e., the sentiment of the entire mass of the workers and 

The resumption of negotiations and the subsequent 
ratification of an agreement with Urquhart depend primari¬ 
ly on the elimination of the flagrant injustices committed 
against Russia by Britain in curtailing her right to partici¬ 
pate in the Middle East Conference. As far as the concrete 
terms submitted to us by Urquhart are concerned, I have 
not yet had time to look into this matter in sufficient 
detail, and can only say that the government has decided 
to let the supporters and opponents of this agreement have 
their say in our press as soon as possible, in order to 
obtain, from the most objective and motivated discussion, 
material for the overall verification of all the pros and 
cons and for a decision on the issue in a manner that best 
accords with Russia’s interests. 

7. Question. To what extent are the accusations of the anti-Rus¬ 
sian press in Britain justified when they assert that the recent arrests 
of industrialists in Moscow signify the end of the New Economic 
Policy and a reversion to the policy of nationalisation and confisca¬ 

Answer. As to your question concerning the accusations 
made against us in the British anti-Russian press that 
“Moscow industrialists” were being arrested. I must say 
that I have today just read in our newspaper ( Jzvestia ) an 
item headed “Arrests of Black Marketeers”. None other 
than Comrade Z. B. Katsnelson, chief of the Economic 
Division of the State Political Administration, tells us in 
this article that there was no question of arrests of indus¬ 
trialists, and that “rumours circulated by enemies of Soviet 
power, both within the R.S.F.S.R. and abroad, that the 
arrests are infringements on the freedom to trade are 
actually nothing but nonsensical inventions that have the 
definite counter-revolutionary intent of disrupting the 
economic relations that are being established with Western 

Indeed, those arrested were exclusively profiteers on the 
so-called black market and our authorities are in possession 



of evidence establishing connection between these black- 
market currency profiteers and certain employees of 
foreign missions in Moscow. This evidence shows not only 
the sale of platinum and of gold bars but also the organisa¬ 
tion of contraband shipments of these valuables abroad. 

From this you can see how absolutely unfounded are 
the rumours that we are putting an end to the New 
Economic Policy and how utterly false are the accusations 
made by the anti-Russian press in Britain, which is trying 
by the most unheard-of distortion and deception to present 
our policy in a false light. Actually, there has never been 
any mention in any government circles whatsoever of 
discontinuing the New Economic Policy and returning to 
the old. Incidentally, the whole work of the government 
during the session of the All-Russia Central Executive 
Committee now in progress is aimed at obtaining the 
widest possible legislative sanction for what is known as 
the New Economic Policy, so as to eliminate all possibility 
of any deviation from it. 

October 27, 1922 

Pravda No. 254, 
November 10, 1922 

Collected Works, VoL 33, 
pp. 333-89 


October 31, 1922 142 

( Stormy, prolonged applause. All rise.) Comrades, permit 
me to confine myself to a few words of greeting. We 
should first of all, of course, send our greetings to the Red 
Army, which has recently given further proof of its valour 
by capturing Vladivostok and clearing the entire territory 
of the last of the republics linked with Soviet Russia. I am 
sure that I am expressing the general opinion when I say 
that we all welcome this new feat of the Red Army, and 
also the fact that apparently a very important step has 
been taken towards bringing the war to a close; the last 
of the whiteguard forces have been driven into the sea. 
(Applause.) I think that our Red Army has rid us for a 
long time of the possibility of another whiteguard attack 
on Russia or on any of the republics that are directly or 
indirectly, closely or more or less remotely, connected 
with us. 

At the same time, however, in order to avoid adopting 
a tone of inordinate self-adulation, we must say that the 
strength of the Red Army and its recent victory were not 
the only factors in this; other factors were the international 
situation and our diplomacy. 

Some time ago Japan and the United States signed a pact 
to support Kolchak. But that was so long ago that many 
people have probably forgotten it completely. But that was 
the case. We have made such pacts impossible now, and, 



due to our efforts, the Japanese, in spite of their military 
strength, declared that they would withdraw, and have 
kept their promise; our diplomacy must also be given 
credit for this. I shall not drag out my brief greeting by 
saying what brought us that success. I shall only say that 
in the near future our diplomats will once again have to 
display their skill in a matter of immense importance, and 
one in which we are vitally interested. I have in mind the 
Middle East Conference that Great Britain is convening in 
Lausanne on November 13. I am sure that there, too, our 
diplomats will prove their mettle, and that we shall be 
able to vindicate the interests of all our federated repub¬ 
lics, and of the R.S.F.S.R. At all events, we shall succeed 
in revealing to the masses where and what the obstacle 
is, and to what extent it is an obstacle to the legitimate 
desires and aspirations not only of ourselves, but of all 
countries interested in the question of the Straits. 

I shall limit my utterances on foreign politics to these 
brief remarks and shall now deal with the proceedings 
of this session. 

I think that here we have achieved no small success in 
spite of the fact that to some people the questions dealt 
with may at first sight appear to be not so very important. 
Take the first code of laws that you have already passed— 
the Code of Labour Laws. Our adoption of a code of laws 
which firmly lays down the principles of labour legislation 
such as the eight-hour day at a time when in all other 
countries the working class is being heavily attacked is a 
tremendous achievement for Soviet rule. True, there are 
people who, perhaps, would desire something more from 
this code; but I think that such a desire would be totally 

We must bear in mind that compared with all the 
countries where fierce capitalist competition is raging, 
where there are millions and tens of millions of unem¬ 
ployed, and where the capitalists are forming vast combina¬ 
tions and are launching an offensive against the working 
class—if we compare ourselves with those countries, we 
are the least cultured, our productivity of labour is the 
lowest, and we are the least efficient. This is, I would say, 
a very unpleasant thing to have to admit. I think, however, 



that precisely because we do not disguise such things with 
platitudes and stereotyped catchwords, but candidly admit 
them, precisely because we all admit, and are not afraid 
to proclaim from this rostrum, that we are exerting more 
efforts than any other country to rectify all this, we shall 
succeed in catching up with these countries faster than 
they ever dreamed possible. 

This will not be done at a fantastic speed, of course, it 
will naturally take us several years of laborious effort to 
achieve it. It goes without saying that nothing can be done 
overnight. We have been in existence for five years, we 
have seen at what speed social relations change, and have 
learned to appreciate what time means; and we must go 
on learning what it means. Nobody believes that any 
important change can be achieved at a fantastic speed; but 
we do believe in real speed, speed compared with the rate 
of development in any period in history you like to take— 
especially if progress is guided by a genuinely revolutionary 
party; and this speed we shall achieve at all costs. 

Pravda No. 247 
November 1, 1922 

Collected Works, Vol. 33, 
pp. 390-92 



November 20, 1922 143 

As to foreign policy, we had the fewest changes in that 
field. We pursued the line that we had adopted earlier, and 
I think I can say with a clear conscience that we pursued 
it quite consistently and with enormous success. There is 
no need, I think, to deal with that in detail; the capture 
of Vladivostok, the ensuing demonstration and the declara¬ 
tion of federation which you read in the press 144 the other 
day have proved and shown with the utmost clarity that 
no changes are necessary in this respect. The road we are 
on is absolutely clearly and well defined, and has ensured 
us success in face of all the countries of the world, although 
some of them are still prepared to declare that they refuse 
to sit at one table with us. Nevertheless, economic relations, 
followed by diplomatic relations, are improving, must 
improve, and certainly will improve. Every country which 
resists this risks being late, and perhaps in some quite 
substantial things, it risks being at a disadvantage. All 
of us see this now, and not only from the press, from the 
newspapers. I think that in their trips abroad comrades 
are also finding the changes very great. In that respect, to 
use an old simile, we have not changed to other trains, or 
to other conveyances. 

But as regards our home policy, the change we made 
in the spring of 1921, which was necessitated by such 
extremely powerful and convincing circumstances that no 


debates or disagreements arose among us about it—that 
change continues to cause us some difficulties, great 
difficulties, I would say. Not because we have any doubts 
about the need for the turn—no doubts exist in that 
respect—not because we have any doubts as to whether 
the test of our New Economic Policy has yielded the suc¬ 
cesses we expected. No doubts exist on that score—I can 
say this quite definitely—either in the ranks of our Party 
or in the ranks of the huge mass of non-Party workers and 

In this sense the problem presents no difficulties. The 
difficulties we have stem from our being faced with a task 
whose solution very often requires the services of new 
people, extraordinary measures and extraordinary methods. 
Doubts still exist among us as to whether this or that is 
correct. There are changes in one direction or another. 
And it should be said that both will continue for quite 
a long time. “The New Economic Policy!” A strange title. 
It was called a New Economic Policy because it turned 
things back. We are now retreating, going back, as it were; 
but we are doing so in order, after first retreating, to take 
a running start and make a bigger leap forward. It was on 
this condition alone that we retreated in pursuing our New 
Economic Policy. W T here and how we must now regroup, 
adapt and reorganise in order to start a most stubborn 
offensive after our retreat, we do not yet know. To carry 
out all these operations properly we need, as the proverb 
says, to look not ten but a hundred times before we leap. 
We must do so in order to cope with the incredible diffi¬ 
culties we encounter in dealing with all our tasks and 
problems. You know perfectly well what sacrifices have 
been made to achieve what has been achieved; you know 
how long the Civil War has dragged on and what effort it 
has cost. Well now, the capture of Vladivostok has shown 
all of us (though Vladivostok is a long way off, it is after 
all one of our own towns) (prolonged applause) everybody’s 
desire to join us, to join in our achievements. The Russian 
Soviet Federative Socialist Republic now stretches from 
here to there. This desire has rid us both of our civil 
enemies and of the foreign enemies who attacked us. I am 
referring to Japan. 



We have won quite a definite diplomatic position, 
recognised by the whole world. All of you see it. You see 
its results, but how much time we needed to get it! We 
have now won the recognition of our rights by our enemies 
both in economic and in commercial policy. This is proved 
by the conclusion of trade agreements. 

We can see why we, who eighteen months ago took the 
path of the so-called New Economic Policy, are finding 
it so incredibly difficult to advance along that path. We 
live in a country devastated so severely by war, knocked 
out of anything like the normal course of life, in a country 
that has suffered and endured so much, that willy-nilly 
we are beginning all our calculations with a very, very 
small percentage—the pre-war percentage. We apply this 
yardstick to the conditions of our life, we sometimes do 
so very impatiently, heatedly, and always end up with the 
conviction that the difficulties are vast. The task we have 
set ourselves in this field seems all the more vast because 
we are comparing it with the state of affairs in any 
ordinary bourgeois country. We have set ourselves this 
task because we understood that it was no use expecting 
the wealthy powers to give us the assistance usually forth¬ 
coming under such circumstances* After the Civil War we 
have been subjected to very nearly a boycott, that is, we 
have been told that the economic ties that are customary 
and normal in the capitalist world will not be maintained 
in our case. 

Over eighteen months have passed since we undertook 
the New Economic Policy, and even a longer period has 
passed since we concluded our first international treaty. 
Nonetheless, this boycott of us by all the bourgeoisie and 
all governments continues to be felt. We could not count 
on anything else when we adopted the new economic 
conditions; yet we had no doubt that we had to make the 

* In the verbatim report the text reads further: “and that even 
if we took into consideration the extremely high, say such-and-such 
a rate of interest, that is imposed in these circumstances on a country 
that, to use the accepted term, is rendered aid. Properly speaking, 
these rates of interest are very far from being aid. To put it bluntly, 
they would deserve a far less polite term than the word aid, but even 
these usual conditions would have been onerous for us.”— Ed. 


change and achieve success single-handed. The further we 
go, the clearer it becomes that any aid that may be ren¬ 
dered to us, that will be rendered to us by the capitalist 
powers, will, far from eliminating this condition, in all 
likelihood and in the overwhelming majority of cases 
intensify it, accentuate it still further. “Single-handed”—we 
told ourselves. “Single-handed”—we are told by almost 
every capitalist country with which we have concluded any 
deals, with which we have undertaken any engagements, 
with which we have begun any negotiations. And that is 
where the special difficulty lies. We must realise this 
difficulty. We have built up our own political system in 
more than three years of work, incredibly hard work that 
was incredibly full of heroism. In the position in which we 
were till now we had no time to see whether we would 
smash something needlessly, no time to see whether there 
would be many sacrifices, because there were sacrifices 
enough, because the struggle which we then began (you 
know this perfectly well and there is no need to dwell on 
it) was a life-and-death struggle against the old social 
system, against which we fought to forge for ourselves a 
right to existence, to peaceful development. And we have 
won it. It is not we who say this, it is not the testimony 
of witnesses who may be accused of being partial to us. 
It is the testimony of witnesses who are in the camp of 
our enemies and who are naturally partial—not in our 
favour, however, but against us. These witnesses were in 
Denikin’s camp. They directed the occupation. And we 
know that their partiality cost us very dear, cost us colossal 
destruction. We suffered all sorts of losses on their account, 
and lost values of all kinds, including the greatest of all 
values—human lives—on an incredibly large scale. Now 
we must scrutinise our tasks most carefully and understand 
that the main task will be not to give up our previous 
gains. We shall not give up a single one of our old gains. 
(Applause.) Yet we are also faced with an entirely new 
task; the old may prove a downright obstacle. To under¬ 
stand this task is most difficult. Yet it must be understood, 
so that we may learn how to work when, so to speak, it is 
necessary to turn ourselves inside out. I think, comrades, 
that these words and slogans are understandable, because 



for nearly a year, during my enforced absence, you have 
had in practice, handling the jobs on hand, to speak and 
think of this in various ways and on hundreds of occasions, 
and I am confident that your reflections on that score can 
only lead to one conclusion, namely, that today we must 
display still more of the flexibility which we employed till 
now in the Civil War. 

We must not abandon the old. The series of concessions 
that adapt us to the capitalist powers is a series of conces¬ 
sions that enables them to make contact with us, ensures 
them a profit which is sometimes bigger, perhaps, than 
it should be. At the same time, we are conceding but a 
little part of the means of production, which are held 
almost entirely by our state. The other day the papers 
discussed the concession proposed by the Englishman 
Urquhart, who has hitherto been against us almost through¬ 
out the Civil War. He used to say: “We shall achieve our 
aim in the Civil War against Russia, against the Russia 
that has dared to deprive us of this and of that.” And 
after all that we had to enter into negotiations with him. 
We did not refuse them, we undertook them with the 
greatest joy, but we said: “Beg your pardon, but we shall 
not give up what we have won. Our Russia is so big, our 
economic potentialities are so numerous, and we feel justi¬ 
fied in not rejecting your kind proposal, but we shall 
discuss it soberly, like businessmen.” True, nothing came 
of our first talk, because we could not agree to his proposal 
for political reasons. We had to reject it. So long as the 
British did not entertain the possibility of our participating 
in the negotiations on the Straits, the Dardanelles, we had 
to reject it, but right after doing so we had to start examin¬ 
ing the matter in substance. We discussed whether or not 
it was of advantage to us, whether we would profit from 
concluding this concession agreement, and if so, under 
what circumstances it would be profitable. We had to talk 
about the price. That, comrades, is what shows you clearly 
how much our present approach to problems should differ 
from our former approach. Formerly the Communist said: 
“I give my life”, and it seemed very simple to him, although 
it was not always so simple. Now, however, we Communists 
face quite another task. We must now take all things into 



account, and each of you must learn to be prudent. We 
must calculate how, in the capitalist environment, we can 
ensure our existence, how we can profit by our enemies, 
who, of course, will bargain, who have never forgotten how 
to bargain and will bargain at our expense. We are not 
forgetting that either, and do not in the least imagine com¬ 
mercial people anywhere turning into lambs and, having 
turned into lambs, offering us blessings of all sorts for 
nothing. That does not happen, and we do not expect it, 
but count on the fact that we, who are accustomed to put¬ 
ting up a fight, will find a way out and prove capable of 
trading, and profiting, and emerging safely from difficult 
economic situations. That is a very difficult task. That is 
the task we are working on now. I should like us to realise 
clearly how great is the abyss between the old and the 
new tasks. However great the abyss may be, we learned 
to manoeuvre during the war, and we must understand 
that the manoeuvre we now have to perform, in the midst 
of which we now are, is the most difficult one. But then 
it seems to be our last manoeuvre. We must test our 
strength in this field and prove that we have learned more 
than just the lessons of yesterday and do not just keep 
repeating the fundamentals. Nothing of the kind. We have 
begun to relearn, and shall relearn in such a way that we 
shall achieve definite and obvious success. And it is for 
the sake of this relearning, I think, that we must again 
firmly promise one another that under the name of the 
New Economic Policy we have turned back, but turned 
back in such a way as to surrender nothing of the new, and 
yet to give the capitalists such advantages as will compel 
any state, however hostile to us, to establish contacts and 
to deal with us. Comrade Krasin, who has had many talks 
with Urquhart, the head and backbone of the whole inter¬ 
vention, said that Urquhart, after all his attempts to foist 
the old system on us at all costs, throughout Russia, seated 
himself at the same table with him, with Krasin, and began 
asking: “What’s the price? How much? For how many 
years?” (Applause.) This is still quite far from our conclud¬ 
ing concession deals and thus entering into treaty relations 
that are perfectly precise and binding—from the viewpoint 
of bourgeois society—but we can already see that we are 



coming to it, have nearly come to it, but have not quite 
arrived. We must admit that, comrades, and not be swell¬ 
headed. We are still far from having fully achieved the 
things that will make us strong, self-reliant and calmly 
confident that no capitalist deals can frighten us, calmly 
confident that however difficult a deal may be we shall 
conclude it, we shall get to the bottom of it and settle it. 
That is why the work—both political and Party—that we 
have begun in this sphere must be continued, and that is 
why we must change from the old methods to entirely 
new ones. 

We still have the old machinery, and our task now is to 
remould it along new lines. We cannot do so at once, but 
we must see to it that the Communists we have are properly 
placed. What we need is that they, the Communists, should 
control the machinery they are assigned to, and not, as so 
often happens with us, that the machinery should control 
them. We should make no secret of it, and speak of it 
frankly. Such are the tasks and the difficulties that confront 
us—and that at a moment when we have set out on our 
practical path, when we must not approach socialism as 
if it were an icon painted in festive colours. We need to 
take the right direction, we need to see that everything 
is checked, that the masses, the entire population, check 
the path we follow and say: “Yes, this is better than the 
old system.” That is the task we have set ourselves. Our 
Party, a little group of people in comparison with the 
country’s total population, has tackled this job. This tiny 
nucleus has set itself the task of remaking everything, and 
it will do so. We have proved that this is no utopia but a 
cause which people live by. We have all seen this. This 
has already been done. We must remake things in such a 
way that the great majority of the masses, the peasants 
and workers, will say: “It is not you who praise yourselves, 
but we. We say that you have achieved splendid results, 
after which no intelligent person will ever dream of return¬ 
ing to the old.” We have not reached that point yet. That 
is why NEP remains the main, current, and all-embracing 
slogan of today. We shall not forget a single one of the 
slogans we learned yesterday. We can say that quite calmly, 
without the slightest hesitation, say it to anybody, and 



every step we take demonstrates it. But we still have to 
adapt ourselves to the New Economic Policy. We must 
know how to overcome, to reduce to a definite minimum 
all its negative features, which there is no need to 
enumerate and which you know perfectly well. We must 
know how to arrange everything shrewdly. Our legislation 
gives us every opportunity to do so. Shall we be able to 
get things going properly? That is still far from being 
settled. We are making a study of things. Every issue of 
our Party newspaper offers you a dozen articles which tell 
you that at such-and-such a factory, owned by so-and-so, 
the rental terms are such-and-such, whereas at another, 
where our Communist comrade is the manager, the terms 
are such-and-such. Does it yield a profit or not, does it pay 
its way or not? We have approached the very core of the 
everyday problems, and that is a tremendous achievement. 
Socialism is no longer a matter of the distant future, or 
an abstract picture, or an icon. Our opinion of icons is 
the same—a very bad one. We have brought socialism into 
everyday life and must here see how matters stand. That 
is the task of our day, the task of our epoch. Permit me 
to conclude by expressing confidence that difficult as this 
task may be, new as it may be compared with our previous 
task, and numerous as the difficulties may be that it 
entails, we shall all—not in a day, but in a few years—all 
of us together fulfil it whatever the cost, so that NEP 
Russia will become socialist Russia. ( Stormy, prolonged 
applause .) 

Pravda No. 263, 
November 21, 1922 

Collected Works, Vol. 33, 
pp. 436-43 


On the question of combating the danger of war, in 
connection with the Conference at The Hague, I think that 
the greatest difficulty lies in overcoming the prejudice that 
this is a simple, clear and comparatively easy question. 

“We shall retaliate to war by a strike or a revolution” 
—that is what all the prominent reformist leaders usually 
say to the working class. And very often the seeming radi¬ 
calness of the measures proposed satisfies and appeases 
the workers, co-operators and peasants. 

Perhaps the most correct method would be to start with 
the sharpest refutation of this opinion; to declare that 
particularly now, after the recent war, only the most foolish 
or utterly dishonest people can assert that such an answer 
to the question of combating war is of any use; to declare 
that it is impossible to “retaliate” to war by a strike, just 
as it is impossible to “retaliate” to war by revolution in 
the simple and literal sense of these terms. 

We must explain the real situation to the people, show 
them that war is hatched in the greatest secrecy, and that 
the ordinary workers’ organisations, even if they call them¬ 
selves revolutionary organisations, are utterly helpless in 
face of a really impending war. 

We must explain to the people again and again in 
the most concrete manner possible how matters stood 
in the last war, and why they could not have been 



We must take special pains to explain that the question 
of “defence of the fatherland” will inevitably arise, and 
that the overwhelming majority of the working people will 
inevitably decide it in favour of their bourgeoisie. 

Therefore, first, it is necessary to explain what “defence 
of the fatherland” means. Second, in connection with this, 
it is necessary to explain what “defeatism” means. Lastly, 
we must explain that the only possible method of combat¬ 
ing war is to preserve existing, and to form new, illegal 
organisations in which all revolutionaries taking part in 
a war carry on prolonged anti-war activities—all this must 
be brought into the forefront. 

Boycott war—that is a silly catch-phrase. Communists 
must take part in every war, even the most reactionary. 

Examples from, say, pre-war German literature, and in 
particular, the example of the Basle Congress of 1912, 
should be used as especially concrete proof that the theo¬ 
retical admissions that war is criminal, that socialists cannot 
condone war, etc., turn out to be empty phrases, because 
there is nothing concrete in them. The masses are not given 
a really vivid idea of how war may and will creep up on 
them. On the contrary, every day the dominant press, in 
an infinite number of copies, obscures this question and 
weaves such lies around it that the feeble socialist press is 
absolutely impotent against it, the more so that even in time 
of peace it propounds fundamentally erroneous views on 
this point. In all probability, the communist press in most 
countries will also disgrace itself. 

I think that our delegates at the International Congress 
of Co-operators and Trade Unionists should distribute their 
functions among themselves and expose all the sophistries 
that are being advanced at the present time in justification 
of war. 

These sophistries are, perhaps, the principal means by 
which the bourgeois press rallies the masses in support of 
war; and the main reason why we are so impotent in face 
of war is either that we do not expose these sophistries 
beforehand, or still more that we, in the spirit of the 
Basle Manifesto of 1912, waive them aside with the cheap, 
boastful and utterly empty phrase that we shall not allow 



war to break out, that we fully understand that war is a 
crime, etc. 

I think that if we have several people at The Hague 
Conference who are capable of delivering speeches against 
war in various languages, the most important thing would 
be to refute the opinion that the delegates at the Confer¬ 
ence are opponents of war, that they understand how war 
may and will come upon them at the most unexpected 
moment, that they to any extent understand what methods 
should be adopted to combat war, that they are to any 
extent in a position to adopt reasonable and effective 
measures to combat war. 

Using the experience of the recent war to illustrate the 
point, we must explain what a host of both theoretical 
and practical questions will arise on the morrow of 
the declaration of war, and that the vast majority of 
the men called up for military service will have no 
opportunity to examine these questions with anything 
like clear heads, or in a conscientious and unprejudiced 

I think that this question must be explained in extraor¬ 
dinary detail, and in two ways: 

First, by relating and analysing what happened during 
the last war and telling all those present that they are 
ignorant of this, or pretend that they know about it, but 
actually shut their eyes to what is the very pivot of the 
question which must be understood if any real efforts are 
to be made to combat war. On this point I think it is 
necessary to examine all the opinions and shades of opinion 
that arose among Russian socialists concerning the last 
war. We must show that those shades of opinion did not 
emerge accidentally, but out of the very nature of modern 
wars in general. We must prove that without an analysis 
of these opinions, without ascertaining why they inevitably 
arise and why they are of decisive significance in the matter 
of combating war—without such an analysis it is utterly 
impossible to make any preparations for war, or even to 
take an intelligent stand on it. 

Secondly, we must take the present conflicts, even the 
most insignificant, to illustrate the fact that war may break 
out any day as a consequence of a dispute between Great 



Britain and France over some point of their treaty with 
Turkey, or between the U.S.A. and Japan over some trivial 
disagreement on any Pacific question, or between any of 
the big powers over colonies, tariffs, or general commercial 
policy, etc., etc. It seems to me that if there is the slightest 
doubt about being able at The Hague to say all we want 
to say against war with the utmost freedom, we should 
consider various stratagems that will enable us to say at 
least what is most important and to publish in pamphlet 
form what could not be said. We must take the risk of our 
speaker being stopped by the chairman. 

I think that for the same purpose the delegation should 
consist not only of speakers who are able, and whose duty 
it shall be, to make speeches against war as a whole, i.e., 
to enlarge on all the main arguments and all the conditions 
for combating war, but also of people who know all the 
three principal foreign languages, whose business it shall 
be to enter into conversation with the delegates and to 
ascertain how far they understand the main arguments, 
what need there is to advance certain arguments and to 
quote certain examples. 

Perhaps on a number of questions the mere quoting of 
facts of the last war will be sufficient to produce serious 
effect. Perhaps on a number of other questions serious 
effect can be produced only by explaining the conflicts that 
exist today between the various countries and how likely 
they are to develop into armed collisions. 

Apropos of the question of combating war, I remember 
that a number of declarations have been made by our 
Communist deputies, in parliament and outside parliament, 
which contain monstrously incorrect and monstrously 
thoughtless statements on this subject. I think these decla¬ 
rations, particularly if they have been made since the war, 
must be subjected to determined and ruthless criticism, 
and the name of each person who made them should be 
mentioned. Opinion concerning these speakers may be 
expressed in the mildest terms, particularly if circumstances 
require it, but not a single case of this kind should be 
passed over in silence, for thoughtlessness on this question 
is an evil that outweighs all others and cannot be treated 



A number of decisions have been adopted by workers’ 
congresses which are unpardonably foolish and thoughtless. 

All material should be immediately collected, and all the 
separate parts and particles of the subject, and the whole 
“strategy” to be pursued should be thoroughly discussed at 
a congress. 

On such a question, not only a mistake, but even lack 
of thoroughness on our part will be unpardonable. 

December 4, 1922 

First published in Pravda No, 96, 
April 26, 1924 
Signed: Lenin 

Collected Woris, Vol. 33, 
pp. 447-51 



To Comrade Stalin for the Plenary Meeting 
of the Central Committee 

I think it is most important to discuss Comrade 
Bukharin’s letter. His first point says that “neither Lenin 
nor Krasin says a word about the incalculable losses that 
are borne by the economy of the country as a consequence 
of the inefficiency of the People’s Commissariat of Foreign 
Trade, due to the ‘principles’ on which it is organised; they 
do not say a word about the losses incurred because we 
ourselves are unable (and will not be able for a long 
time for quite understandable reasons) to mobilise the 
peasants’ stocks of goods and use them for international 

This statement is positively untrue, for in his §2 Krasin 
clearly discusses the formation of mixed companies as a 
means, firstly, of mobilising the peasants’ stocks of goods, 
and secondly, of obtaining for our Exchequer no less than 
half the profits accruing from this mobilisation. Thus it 
is Bukharin who is trying to evade the issue, for he refuses 
to see that the profits accruing from the “mobilisation of 
the peasants’ stocks of goods” will go wholly and entirely 
into the pockets of the Nepmen. The question is: will our 
People’s Commissariat of Foreign Trade operate for the 
benefit of the Nepmen or of our proletarian state? This is 
a fundamental question over which a fight can and should 
be put up at a Party Congress. 

Compared with this primary, fundamental question of 
principle, the question of the inefficiency of the People’s 



Commissariat of Foreign Trade is only a minor one, for 
this inefficiency is only part and parcel of the inefficiency 
of all our People’s Commissariats, and is due to their 
general social structure; to remedy this we shall require 
many years of persistent effort to improve education and 
to raise the general standard. 

The second point in Bukharin’s theses says that “points 
like §5 of Krasin’s theses, for example, are fully applic¬ 
able to concessions in general”. This, too, is glaringly 
untrue, for Krasin’s 5th thesis states that “the most per¬ 
nicious exploiter, the merchant, profiteer, the agent of 
foreign capital, operating with dollars, pounds and Swedish 
crowns, will be artificially introduced into the rural 
districts”. Nothing of the kind will happen in the case of 
concessions, which not only stipulate territory, but also 
envisage special permission to trade in specified articles; 
and what is most important, we control the trade in the 
articles specified in the concession. Without saying a single 
word in opposition to Krasin’s argument that we shall be 
unable to keep free trade within the limits laid down 
by the decision of the Plenary Meeting of October 6, that 
trade will be torn out of our hands by pressure brought 
to bear not only by smugglers, but also by the entire 
peasantry—without saying a word in answer to this 
fundamental economic and class argument, Bukharin 
hurls accusations against Krasin that are amazingly 

In the third point of his letter Bukharin writes Ҥ3 of 
Krasin’s theses”. (By mistake he mentions §3 instead of 
§4.) “We are maintaining our frontiers”, and he asks: 
“What does this mean? In reality, this means that we are 
doing nothing. It is exactly like a shop with a splendid 
window, but with nothing on its shelves (the ‘shut the 
shops system’).” Krasin very definitely says that we are 
maintaining our frontiers not so much by tariffs, or 
frontier guards, as by means of our monopoly of foreign 
trade. Bukharin does not say a word to refute this obvious, 
positive and indisputable fact, nor can he do so. His 
sneering reference to the “shut the shops system” belongs 
to the category of expressions to which Marx, in his 
day, retorted with the expression “free-trader vulgaris ”, 


for it is nothing more than a vulgar free-trader catch- 

Further, in his fourth point, Bukharin accuses Krasin 
of failing to realise that we must improve our tariff system, 
and at the same time he says that I am wrong in talking 
about having inspectors all over the country, because 
export and import bases are the only point under discus¬ 
sion. Here, too, Bukharin’s objections are amazingly 
thoughtless and quite beside the point; for Krasin not only 
realises that we must improve our tariff system and not 
only fully admits it, but says so with a definiteness that 
leaves no room for the slightest doubt. This improvement 
consists, firstly, in our adopting the monopoly of foreign 
trade, and secondly, in the formation of mixed companies. 

Bukharin does not see—this is his most amazing mistake, 
and a purely theoretical one at that—that no tariff system 
can be effective in the epoch of imperialism when there 
are monstrous contrasts between pauper countries and 
immensely rich countries. Several times Bukharin mentions 
tariff barriers, failing to realise that under the circum¬ 
stances indicated any of the wealthy industrial countries 
can completely break down such tariff barriers. To do this 
it will be sufficient for it tb introduce an export bounty to 
encourage the export to Russia of goods upon which we 
have imposed high import duties. All of the industrial 
countries have more than enough money for this purpose, 
and by means of such a measure any of them could easily 
ruin our home industry. 

Consequently, all Bukharin’s arguments about the tariff 
system would in practice only leave Russian industry 
entirely unprotected and lead to the adoption of free trad¬ 
ing under a very flimsy veil. We must oppose this with all 
our might and carry our opposition right to a Party 
Congress, for in the present epoch of imperialism the only 
system of protection worthy of consideration is the 
monopoly of foreign trade. 

Bukharin’s accusation (in his fifth point) that Krasin 
fails to appreciate the importance of increasing circulation 
is utterly refuted by what Krasin says about mixed 
companies, for these mixed companies have no other 
purpose than to increase circulation and to provide real 



protection for our Russian industry and not the fictitious 
protection of tariff barriers. 

Further, in point six, in answer to me, Bukharin writes 
that he attaches no importance to the fact that the peasants 
will enter into profitable transactions, and that the strug¬ 
gle will proceed between the Soviet government and the 
exporters and not between the peasants and the Soviet 
government. Here, too, he is absolutely wrong, for with 
the difference in prices that I have indicated (for example, 
in Russia the price of flax is 4 rubles 50 kopeks, while in 
Britain it is 14 rubles), the exporter will be able to mobilise 
all the peasants around himself in the swiftest and most 
certain manner. In practice, Bukharin is acting as an 
advocate of the profiteer, of the petty bourgeois and of the 
upper stratum of the peasantry in opposition to the indus¬ 
trial proletariat, which will be totally unable to build up 
its own industry and make Russia an industrial country 
unless it has the protection, not of tariffs, but of the 
monopoly of foreign trade. In view of the conditions at 
present prevailing in Russia, any other form of protection 
would be absolutely fictitious; it would be merely paper 
protection, from which the proletariat would derive no 
benefit whatever. Hence, from the viewpoint of the prole¬ 
tariat and of its industry, the present fight rages around 
fundamental principles. The mixed company system is the 
only system that can be really effective in improving 
the defective machinery of the People’s Commissariat 
of Foreign Trade; for under this system foreign and 
Russian merchants will be operating side by side. If we 
fail to learn the business thoroughly even under such 
circumstances, it will prove that ours is a nation of 
hopeless fools. 

By talking about “tariff barriers” we shall only be 
concealing from ourselves the dangers which Krasin points 
out quite clearly, and which Bukharin has failed to refute 
in the slightest degree. 

I will add that the partial opening of the frontiers would 
be fraught with grave currency dangers, for in practice we 
should be reduced to the position of Germany; there would 
be the grave danger that the petty-bourgeoisie and all sorts 
of agents of emigre Russia would penetrate into Russia, 



without our having the slightest possibility of exercising 
control over them. 

The utilisation of mixed companies as a means of 
obtaining serious and long tuition is the only road to the 
restoration of our industry. 


First published in full in 1930 Collected Works, Vol. 33, 

in the journal i J roletarskaya pp. 455-59 

Revolutsia No. 2-3 



The general feature of our present life is the following: 
we have destroyed capitalist industry and have done our 
best to raze to the ground the medieval institutions and 
landed proprietorship, and thus created a small and very 
small peasantry, which is following the lead of the prole¬ 
tariat because it believes in the results of its revolutionary 
work. It is not easy for us, however, to keep going until 
the socialist revolution is victorious in more developed 
countries merely with the aid of this confidence, because 
economic necessity, especially under NEP, keeps the 
productivity of labour of the small and very small peasants 
at an extremely low level. Moreover, the international 
situation, too, threw Russia back and, by and large, reduced 
the labour productivity of the people to a level considerably 
below pre-war. The West-European capitalist powers, 
partly deliberately and partly unconsciously, did everything 
they could to throw us back, to utilise the elements of the 
Civil War in Russia in order to spread as much ruin in the 
country as possible. It was precisely this way out of the 
imperialist war that seemed to have many advantages. 
They argued somewhat as follows: “If we fail to overthrow 
the revolutionary system in Russia, we shall, at all events, 
hinder its progress towards socialism.” And from their 
point of view they could argue in no other way. In the 
end, their problem was half solved. They failed to over¬ 
throw the new system created by the revolution, but they 
did prevent it from at once taking the step forward that 



would have justified the forecasts of the socialists, that 
would have enabled the latter to develop the productive 
forces with enormous speed, to develop all the potentiali¬ 
ties which, taken together, would have produced socialism; 
socialists would thus have proved to all and sundry that 
socialism contains within itself gigantic forces and that 
mankind had now entered into a new stage of develop¬ 
ment of extraordinarily brilliant prospects. 

The system of international relationships which has now 
taken shape is one in which a European state, Germany, 
is enslaved by the victor countries. Furthermore, owing to 
their victory, a number of states, the oldest states in the 
West, are in a position to make some insignificant 
concessions to their oppressed classes—concessions which, 
insignificant though they are, nevertheless retard the 
revolutionary movement in those countries and create some 
semblance of “class truce”. 

At the same time, as a result of the last imperialist war, 
a number of countries of the East, India, China, etc., have 
been completely jolted out of the rut. Their development 
has definitely shifted to general European capitalist lines. 
The general European ferment has begun to affect them, 
and it is now clear to the whole world that they have been 
drawn into a process of development that must lead to a 
crisis in the whole of world capitalism. 

Thus, at the present time we are confronted with the 
question—shall we be able to hold on with our small and 
very small peasant production, and in our present state 
of ruin, until the West European capitalist countries 
consummate their development towards socialism? But they 
are consummating it not as we formerly expected. They 
are not consummating it through the gradual “maturing” 
of socialism, but through the exploitation of some countries 
by others, through the exploitation of the first of the 
countries vanquished in the imperialist war combined with 
the exploitation of the whole of the East. On the other 
hand, precisely as a result of the first imperialist war, the 
East has been definitely drawn into the revolutionary 
movement, has been definitely drawn into the general 
maelstrom of the world revolutionary movement. 

What tactics does this situation prescribe for our 



country? Obviously the following. We must display 
extreme caution so as to preserve our workers’ government 
and to retain our small and very small peasantry under its 
leadership and authority. We have the advantage that the 
whole world is now passing to a movement that must give 
rise to a world socialist revolution. But we are labouring 
under the disadvantage that the imperialists have succeeded 
in splitting the world into two camps; and this split is 
made more complicated by the fact that it is extremely 
difficult for Germany, which is really a land of advanced, 
cultured, capitalist development, to rise to her feet. All the 
capitalist powers of what is called the West are pecking 
at her and preventing her from rising. On the other hand, 
the entire East, with its hundreds of millions of exploited 
working people, reduced to the last degree of human 
suffering, has been forced into a position where its physical 
and material strength cannot possibly be compared with 
the physical, material and military strength of any of the 
much smaller West-European states. 

Can we save ourselves from the impending conflict with 
these imperialist countries? May we hope that the internal 
antagonisms and conflicts between the thriving imperialist 
countries of the West and the thriving imperialist countries 
of the East will give us a second respite as they did the 
first time, when the campaign of the West-European 
counter-revolution in support of the Russian counter-revolu¬ 
tion broke down owing to the antagonisms in the camp of 
the counter-revolutionaries of the West and the East, in 
the camp of the Eastern and Western exploiters, in the 
camp of Japan and the U.S.A.? 

I think the reply to this question should be that the 
issue depends upon too many factors, and that the outcome 
of the struggle as a wh'ole can be forecast only because in 
the long run capitalism itself is educating and training 
the vast majority of the population of the globe for the 

In the last analysis, the outcome of the struggle will be 
determined by the fact that Russia, India, China, etc., 
account for the overwhelming majority of the population 
of the globe. And during the past few years it is this major¬ 
ity that has been drawn into the struggle for emancipation 



with extraordinary rapidity, so that in this respect there 
cannot be the slightest doubt what the final outcome of 
the world struggle will be. In this sense, the complete 
victory of socialism is fully and absolutely assured. 

But what interests us is not the inevitability of this 
complete victory of socialism, but the tactics which we, 
the Russian Communist Party, we, the Russian Soviet 
Government, should pursue to prevent the West-European 
counter-revolutionary states from crushing us. To ensure 
our existence until the next military conflict between the 
counter-revolutionary imperialist West and the revolution¬ 
ary and nationalist East, between the most civilised 
countries of the world and the Orientally backward 
countries which, however, comprise the majority, this 
majority must become civilised. We, too, lack enough 
civilisation to enable us to pass straight on to socialism, 
although we do have the political requisites for it. We 
should adopt the following tactics, or pursue the following 
policy, to save ourselves. 

We must strive to build up a state in which the workers 
retain the leadership of the peasants, in which they retain 
the confidence of the peasants, and by exercising the great¬ 
est economy remove every trace of extravagance from our 
social relations. 

We must reduce our state apparatus to the utmost degree 
of economy. We must banish from it all traces of extrava¬ 
gance, of which so much has been left over from tsarist 
Russia, from its bureaucratic capitalist state machine. 

Will not this be a reign of peasant limitations? 

No. If we see to it that the working class retains its 
leadership over the peasantry, we shall be able, by 
exercising the greatest possible thrift in the economic life 
of our state, to use every saving we make to develop our 
large-scale machine industry., to develop elecrification, the 
hydraulic extraction of peat, to complete the Volkhov 
Power Project, etc. 

In this, and in this alone, lies our hope. Only when we 
have done this shall we, speaking figuratively, be able to 
change horses, to change from the peasant, muzhik horse 
of poverty, from the horse of an economy designed for a 
ruined peasant country, to the horse which the proletariat 



is seeking and must seek—the horse of large-scale machine 
industry, of electrification, of the Volkhov Power Station, 

That is how I link up in my mind the general plan of 
our work, of our policy, of our tactics, of our strategy, 
with the functions of the reorganised Workers’ and 
Peasants’ Inspection. This is what, in my opinion, justifies 
the exceptional care, the exceptional attention that we 
must devote to the Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection in 
raising it to an exceptionally high level, in giving it a 
leadership with Central Committee rights, etc., etc. 

And this justification is that only by thoroughly purging 
our government machine, by reducing to the utmost 
everything that is not absolutely essential in it, shall we 
be certain of being able to keep going. Moreover, we shall 
be able to keep going not on the level of a small-peasant 
country, not on the level of universal limitation, but on 
a level steadily advancing to large-scale machine industry. 

These are the lofty tasks that I dream of for our 
Workers’ and Peasants’ Inspection. That is why I am 
planning for it the amalgamation of the most authoritative 
Party body with an “ordinary” People’s Commissariat. 

March 2, 1923 

Pravda No. 49, 
March 4, 1923 
Signed: N. Lenin 

Collected Works, Vol. 33, 
pp. 498-502 



(March 14, 1922) 
To Comrade Lenin 

March 10, 1922 

Esteemed Vladimir Ilyich, 

I earnesly request you to read through the proposals 
made below and let me have your instructions. We have 
to put forward “a broad pacifist programme”, that is 
one of the most important elements of our forthcoming 
act; we have not, however, got one. We have only the 
separate, fragmentary points in the first directives of the 
Central Committee. I am here making a first attempt to 
approach the task. 

The chief difficulty is that the present international 
political and economic forms serve as permanent fig- 
leaves covering the predatory acts of the imperialists; 
in particular, these forms serve as a weapon against us. 
The League of Nations is simply a tool of the Entente 
that has already been used against us. You have yourself 
pointed out that arbitration between the bourgeois and 
Soviet governments is impossible; nevertheless arbitra¬ 
tion is an indispensable weapon in the pacifist arsenal. 
The internationalisation of the Chinese Eastern Railway 
is a euphemism for its alienation from us and from 
China and its seizure by the Entente. A foreign bank of 
issue in Russia and the introduction of the dollar into 
Russia, like the introduction of a universal single gold 
unit in general, would be the most effective weapon for 
complete economic bondage to America. 

We have to introduce something new into the custom¬ 
ary modern international forms to prevent those forms 
being turned into a tool of imperialism. This new some¬ 
thing is provided by our experience and our creative 
activity as well as by the creative action of life itself in 



1) true! 

2 ) 

3 ) 

the process of the growing ruin and break-up of the 
imperialist world. The world war has resulted in the 
intensification of the liberation movement of all oppressed 
and colonial peoples. World states are coming undone 
at the seams. Our international programme must bring 
all oppressed colonial peoples into the international 
scheme. The right of all peoples to secession or to home 
rule must be recognised. The African Conference of 
1885 resulted in the horrors of the Belgian Congo, 
because the European powers at that conference in¬ 
dulged in philanthropy towards the Negroes and that 
philanthropy turned out to be a fig-leaf covering the most 
barbaric exploitation. The novelty of our international 
scheme must be that the Negro and all other colonial 

peoples participate on an equal footing with the European 

peoples in conferences and commissions and have the 
right to prevent interference in their internal affairs. 

Another novelty is the obligatory participation of work¬ 
ing-class organisations . The demand for trade unions 

to take part in a future European congress was 
very popular in British working-class literature during 
the world war. We have actually realised this by includ¬ 
ing three members of the Central Council of Trade 
Unions in our delegation. We must lay down that one- 
third of the votes in the international organisation we 
are going to propose should belong to the working-class 
organisations represented in each delegation. These two 
novelties, however, are not sufficient to protect the 
oppressed peoples and countries from the domination of 
the imperialists because the upper stratum of the colonial 
peoples may well be puppets in the same way as treach¬ 
erous labour leaders are. The inclusion of these two 
opens up the way for future struggles. Working-class 
organisations will be confronted with the task of struggl¬ 
ing for the liberation of the colonial peoples, for aid to 
Soviet power and against imperialist depredation. The 
leaders, however, will try to betray them. Therefore 
another thing to be established is the principle of non¬ 
interventi on on the part of international conferences 
and congresses in the internal affairs of various peoples. 

Voluntary co-ope ration and aid for the weak on the part 
of the strong must be applied without subordinating the 
former to the latter. 

As a result we have a very bold and completely new 
proposal—A WORLD CONGRESS with all peoples of 
the world participating on a completely equal footing, 



on the basis of the declaration of the right to self-deter¬ 
mination, the right to complete secession or home rule 
for all oppressed peoples, and also with the participation 
of working-class organisations to the extent of one-third 
of the entire congress. The purpose of the congress will 
not be compulsion of the minority but complet e agree- 

ment. The congress will help by its moral authority. In 


practice it will set up technical commissions for the 

implementation of our extensive economic programme of \ 
world-wide reconstruction. J 

All the projects for a League of Nations or Associa- / 
tion of Nations contain only two types of proposals 
concerning methods of compulsion to ensure the fulfil¬ 
ment of League decisions—either the establishment of 
composite armies with contingents from all states or the 
investment of a punitive mandate in a certain power or 
several such powers. In the first case we would have 
something incompetent because a composite army made 
up of contingents from numerous countries is of no 
use. In the second case the League of Nations or Asso¬ 
ciation of Nations is nothing but an excuse to justify 
fresh conquests by the more influential powers. And so 
it is essential to eliminate completely the element of 
compulsion or punitive expeditions and leave to the World 
Congress only its moral authority, allowing it to be an 
arena for discussions aimed at reaching agreement. The 
prevention of war is a matter for arbitration. There are 
two types of arbitration—the voluntary appeal of the 
two parties to an arbiter, to the Hague Tribunal for 
instance—in such cases the decision of the arbiter is 
binding—or the second method, an example of which 
is to be found in the article on arbitration contained in 
the treaty between Great Britain and the United States 
according to which, in the event of there being a danger 
of war, special commissions of conciliation are set up 
to which the two parties must appeal but whose deci¬ 
sion is merely advisory although for a definite period, 
for instance a year, the proceedings of the commission 
continue; this second method has as its purpose the 
postponement of the beginning of military action to 
enable the passions of both parties to subside in the 
legally established interval and lessen the conflict. In 
the first case appeal to the arbiter is not obligatory but 
decisions are binding. In the second case appeal to the 
arbiter is obligatory but decisions are not binding, and 
the parties are bound only for the legally established 

At the present moment we cannot avoid one of these 
alternatives. The proposed World Congress could take 


j exactly 




over the Hague Tribunal with its advisory arbitration 
and other services. We shall consider that the only court 
of arbitration between a capitalist state and the Soviet 
state can be that in which (5) 

an equal number of members is appointed by each party 

so that half the members will be imperialists and half 
will be Communists. At the same time we shall propose 
a general reduction of (6) 

6 ) 


8 ) 


armaments based on those theses we have established 

with the Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic; 
developing the traditions of the Hague and Geneva 
Conventions we shall propose adding a number of prohi¬ 
bitions to the rules of war—the abolition of submarines, 

chemical gases, mortars, flame-throwers and armed air 

The technical commissions set up by the World Con¬ 
gress will guide the implementation of a broad pro¬ 
gramme of world-wide rehabilitation. This programme 
will not be imposed by force. It will be a voluntary 
proposal that appeals to the advantage of every partici¬ 
pant. Aid will be afforded the weak . In this way world 

railways, river and sea routes must be laid down. The 
internationalisation of those routes will be a matter of 
gradual development since the compulsion of those who 
resist will not be allowed. International technical com¬ 
missions will propose to individual countries economic 
and technical aid for the creation of super-main lines, 
for the regulation of traffic on international rivers, for 
the use of international harbours and for the technical 
improvement of world sea routes. We shall propose that 
the capital of the advanced countries be used to build a 

10 ) 

super-main line London-Moscow-Vladivostok (Peking) 

and we shall explain that it will open up the incalcul¬ 
able wealth of Siberia for the use of all. In general, aid 
from the strong for the weak will be the basic principle 
of world rehabilitation which must be based on eco¬ 
nomic geography and the planned distribution of resources. 
A world gold unit can make its appearance only as a 
result of the improvement of the economically weak 
countries with the aid of the strong; this improvement 
is to the interest of all since world ruin affects the 
strong countries as well, giving rise to unparalleled 
unemployment, even in America. The strong, by helping 
the weak, are opening up for themselves markets and 


sources of raw materials. Proceeding from these premises 
we shall propose the planned distribution of the gold 

that is at the moment lying idle in the vaults of the 
American banks. This planned distribution of gold in all 
c ountries must be combined with the planned distribution 
of orders, trade, supplies of deficient materials, in gen¬ 
eral, with all-round economic aid for the ruined coun¬ 
tries. This aid may take the form of loans, since under 

a planned economy the return of the money would 
begin in a few years. Under this heading we place the 
Barter Institute plan (Keynes), or the Zentralstelle, or 
national trade centres. If Germany opposes us by a 
single Zentralstelle in place of individual merchants it 
will be bad for us since it would be a means of imposing 
bad goods on us at high prices. If, however, the Zentral- 
stellen are instruments for the planned, world-wide distri¬ 
bution of essential commodities and a means of render¬ 

ing aid to weak countries by the strong, they would be 

- lu) 

essential components of an extensive programme of 
economic reconstruction. The grain sent to us by Amer¬ 
ica is the beginning of the international distribution of 
food. Within the Entente there was a partially planned 
distribution of fuel during the war; one of the chief 
elements of the broad programme should be the sys¬ 
tematic distribution of oil and coal, but in this case, too, 
the element of compulsion and repression must be 
eliminated. The international technical commissions 
must elaborate, in very general outline, a programme 
for the planned distribution of fuel and energy resources. 

All these points, taken together, provide a picture of 
what is theoretically possible under the bourgeois sys¬ 
tem, but which in historically conditioned reality will 
come up against national egoism and the predatory acts 
of the capitalist oligarchy. 

With Communist greetings, 

Georgi Chicherin 

Firsl published in 1959 in 
Lenin Miscellany XXXV1 

Published according to the 
text of the Miscellany 


March 14, 1922 

Comrade Chicherin, 

I have read your letter of March 10. It seems to me that 
you have yourself outlined the pacifist programme excel 
lently in that letter. 

The great thing is to pronounce both the programme 
and our commercial proposals clearly and loudly before 
the break-up (if “they” make for an early break-up). 

You and our delegation have the skill to do this. 

In my opinion you already have about thirteen points 
(I am sending my marginal notes to your letter); they are 

Everyone will be intrigued when we say: “We have an 
extensive and complete programme!” If they do not let us 
announce it we shall print it with a protest. 

Everywhere there is a “tiny” proviso: we, the Com¬ 
munists, be it known, have our own communist programme 
(Third International) but deem it our duty as merchants 
to support (even if there is only one chance in ten thousand) 
the pacifists in the other , i.e., the bourgeois, camp 
(considering the Second and Two-and-a-Half Interna¬ 
tionals as belonging to that camp ). 

That will be venomous and “benign” and will help 
demoralise the enemy. 

Using this tactics we shall win even if we are unsuccess¬ 
ful at Genoa. We shall not make a deal that is not to our 

With Communist greetings, 





March 14. 


Comrade Chicherin, 

Why should we not he venomous (and “benign”) in 
another way as well? 

By proposing an abolition of all war debts (§14) and a 
re-examination (on the basis of our thirteen points) of the 
Versailles and all war treaties (§15), 

not by suppressing the minority by the voting power of 
the majority, but on the basis of concord, because we who 
are present here in the capacity of merchants, cannot put 
forward here any other principle than that of commerce. 
We do not want to secure a majority vote over the United 
States; we are merchants and want to persuade that 
country! ! Let the question be put to all countries and an 
attempt made to persuade those that are not in agreement. 
Benign and unacceptable to the bourgeoisie. We shall 
disgrace them and humiliate them “in a benign manner”. 

Variation: the subordination of the minority of countries 
(by population) to the majority may be proposed separate¬ 
ly inside each of the two camps, bourgeois and Soviet (that 
which recognises private property and that which does not). 
Put forward both the project and the variation. 

Les rieurs seront avec nous!* 

P.P.S. Make an exception for small shareholders, provided 
it can be proved that they are not fictitious but really 
small, working shareholders. 

First published in 1959 Published according to [he 

in Lenin Miscellany XXXVI text of the Miscellany 

The laughers will be on our side.— Ed. 



1 The Congress opened at Smolny at 10.45 p.m. on October 25 

(November 7), 1917; Lenin’s manifesto “To Workers, Soldiers 
and Peasants I” and the decrees on peace and on the land were 
adopted, and the Council of People’s Commissars (the Soviet 
Government) was formed. Lenin was elected Chairman of the 
Council of People’s Commissars. p. 11 

2 The People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs published the 
secret treaties of Russia and some other countries in December 
1917 and early in 1918, following a decision of the Second All- 
Russia Congress of Soviets. On the initiative of N. G. Markin, 
a Bolshevik who had formerly served in the Baltic Fleet, over a 
hundred treaties and other secret documents of the tsarist and 
Provisional governments of Russia were removed from the 
archives, deciphered and published. They first appeared in news¬ 
papers and were later issued in nine volumes. Among them were 
a number of Austro-Hungarian, German, Italian, French, British 
and other documents. 

The publication of the secret treaties was important in revealing 
the imperialist nature of the First World War. p. 13 

3 This refers to the bourgeois Provisional Government formed as a 

result of the bourgeois-democratic revolution; it was in power from 
February to October 25, 1917. The Provisional Government continued 
the reactionary foreign policy of the tsarist autocracy, protecting 
the interests of the bourgeoisie and the landowners. p. 13 

4 Chartism was the mass revolutionary movement of English workers 

in the nineteenth century. The Charter, from which the movement 
got its name, contained the political demands of the movement. 
Most of those participating in the movement had immature and 
utopian political views; this weakened the movement which, in 
general, had no clear-cut programme and tactics. Although it was 
defeated, the Chartist movement is important in the history of the 
British and international working-class movement. p. 13 

5 The German Reichstag adopted the Anti-Socialist Law in 1878 as 
proposed by Bismarck. The law prohibited Social-Democratic 



organisations and activities, and the publication of Social-Democratic 
journals, newspapers and propaganda literature. Active German 
Social-Democrats suffered repressions under this law; nevertheless, 
the Party continued to work under illegal conditions and greatly 
increased its influence among the workers; at the Reichstag 
elections in 1890, Social-Democratic candidates obtained almost a 
million and a half votes. That year the law was annulled. p. 14 

6 The Constituent Assembly was convened on January 5, 1918, 
although elections to it had, in the main, been held before the 
October Revolution. The elections were organised by commissions 
dominated by reactionary bourgeois parties which, therefore, 
obtained a majority in the Assembly. This led to the policy pursued 
by the counter-revolutionary part of the Constituent Assembly 
contradicting the will of the majority of the people as expressed 
in the establishment of Soviet power and in its decrees. The 
Constituent Assembly refused to discuss the Declaration of Rights 
of the Working and Exploited People submitted to it by the 
Bolsheviks and to approve the decrees on peace and on the land 
and on the transfer of power to the Soviets adopted by the 
Second Congress of Soviets. 

The Bolsheviks read out the Declaration and then walked out 
of the Assembly which had clearly displayed its hostility to the 
interests of the working people. In January 1918 the Constituent 
Assembly was dissolved by a decree of the All-Russia Central 
Executive Committee. p. 14 

7 This Manifesto was adopted by the Petrograd Soviet on March 

14 (27), 1917, and published in the chief newspapers the next day. 
The Manifesto “To the Peoples of the Whole World” said in part: 
“We call upon you to overthrow your semi-autocratic system in 
the same way as the Russian people have shaken off their tsarist 
autocracy, and to refuse to serve as an instrument of conquest and 
violence in the hands of kings, landowners and bankers.” The 
Manifesto, adopted under pressure from the revolutionary masses 
who demanded that the war be stopped, called on the working 
people of the belligerent countries to take action for peace. It did 
not, however, expose the annexationist character of the war and 
did not propose any practical measures in the struggle for peace; 
in reality it justified the continuation of the imperialist war by the 
bourgeois Provisional Government. p. 15 

8 The agenda of this Congress was the following: the current 
situation and the question of power, the activities of the Central 
Navy Committee, reforms in the Navy Department, and others, p. 22 

9 Peace negotiations between Soviet Russia and Germany began 4n 
Brest-Litovsk on November 20 (December 3), 1917, and on November 
22 (December 5) a preliminary agreement was reached on the ces¬ 
sation of hostilities for ten days; on December 2 (15) an agreement 
on a 28-day armistice was signed; it was to last from December 
4 (17), 1917 to January 1 (14), 1918 and to be renewed automatic¬ 
ally unless one of the sides gave seven days notice of its denuncia- 



tion. On the insistence of the Soviet Government, the Germans under¬ 
took not to transfer troops from the Eastern to the Western front. 

p. 24 

Lenin introduced the Declaration at a meeting of the All-Russia 
Central Executive Committee on January 3 (16), 1918; it was 
adopted unanimously with some slight changes to Lenin’s original 
text. On January 12 (25), 1918, the Declaration was approved by the 
Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets and was later included as the 
first section in the Constitution of the R.S.F.S.R. approved by the 
Fifth All-Russia Congress of Soviets on July 10, 1918. p. 25 

The Finnish Diet approved the Declaration of Finland’s independ¬ 
ence on December 6 (19), 1917. On December 18 (31) the head of 
the Finnish Government Svinhufvud addressed a request to Lenin 
as Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars to recognise 
Finland’s independence. That same day the Soviet Government 
acceded to Finland’s request and was thus the first country to 
recognise independent Finland. The All-Russia Central Executive 
Committee approved the decision of the Council of People’s Com¬ 
missars and on December 22, 1917 (January 4, 1918) adopted the 
“Declaration of the Revolutionary Government on the Recognition 
of Finland’s Independence”. p. 26 

The People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, in a note to the 
Persian charge d’affaires dated December 19, 1917 (January 1, 
1918), proposed that negotiations be immediately opened for the 
withdrawal of Russian troops from Persia. All Russian troops were 
withdrawn from Persia by March 1918. p. 26 

The Decree on Turkish Armenia was discussed by the Council of 
People’s Commissars on December 23, 1917 (January 5, 1918), 
approved by the Council on December 29, 1917 (January 11, 1918) 
and published in Pravda (No. 227) on December 31, 1917 (January 
13, 1918). The inhabitants of Turkish Armenia, which had been 
occupied by Russian troops during the First World War, were 
granted the right to self-determination, up to and including 
complete independence. In February 1918, Turkish troops again 
seized Turkish Armenia, which prevented the people from exercis¬ 
ing the right to self-determination. p. 26 

This article marked the opening of the press campaign in favour 
of concluding peace with Germany. The issue was a very serious 
one and a furious discussion was waged around it. Peace negotia¬ 
tions opened in Brest-Litovsk on December 9 (22), 1917; the dele¬ 
gation of the German bloc rejected the peace proposals of the 
Soviet Government and on January 5 (18), 1918 offered Soviet 
Russia harsh terms that amounted to the plunder of the country; 
under these terms Poland, Lithuania, part of Latvia, Estonia and 
Byelorussia went to the Germans. The Soviet Government tempo¬ 
rarily broke off negotiations and recalled its delegation to Petrograd 
for consultations. 



Lenin launched a determined struggle against the “Left Com¬ 
munists” and against Trotsky. On January 8 (21) 1918, he spoke 
in defence of his theses on the question of the immediate conclu¬ 
sion of a separate and annexationist peace at a meeting of members 
of the Central Committee of the Party and Bolshevik delegates to 
the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets. Questions of war and 
peace were discussed at meetings of the Central. Committee on 
January 24, and February 1, 3, 18, 22, 23 and 24, 1918. To prevent the 
break-down of the peace negotiations and put a stop to the 
adventurous policy of Trotsky and the ‘‘Left Communists”, Lenin 
got a decision passed by the Central Committee to keep the negotia¬ 
tions going as long as possible and sign a peace treaty if the 
Germans presented an ultimatum. The German ultimatum of 
February 9, 1918, demanded that the Soviet delegation accept the 
terms offered on January 18, but Trotsky, who at that time was 
head of the Soviet delegation, ignored the C.C. decision and, in 
direct contravention of Lenin’s instructions, refused to sign. This 
was treason, which the German imperialists took immediate 
advantage of. 

On February 18, 1918, German troops broke the armistice terms 
and launched an offensive along the whole Russo-German front. 
That same day the Central Committee of the Party, on Lenin’s 
proposal, adopted a decision to sign the terms the Germans offered. 
On February 22, however, the German imperialists presented a new 
ultimatum containing even harsher peace terms; the German 
imperialists claimed all the Baltic area and demanded that the 
towns of Kars, Batumi and Ardagan be handed over to Turkey; 
the ultimatum further required the withdrawal of the troops still 
remaining in Finland and the Ukraine, the conclusion of peace with 
the bourgeois-nationalist Ukrainian Central Rada and the demobili¬ 
sation of the army. The Soviet Republic was required to pay 
Germany heavy indemnities. 

On February 23 the Central Committee of the Party, by a 
majority vote, adopted Lenin’s proposal to sign the peace treaty; 
on March 1, 1918, negotiations were resumed. The peace treaty 
was signed on March 3 and ratified by the Fourth (Extraordinary) 
All-Russia Congress of Soviets on March 15. In November 1918 the 
German revolution swept away the monarchist regime and on 
November 13, the All-Russia Central Executive Committee de¬ 
nounced the unjust, annexationist Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. 

In this present article Lenin made use of the documents of the 
conference of Central Committee members and Bolshevik delegates 
to the Third All-Russia Congress of Soviets held on January 21, 1918. 

p. 28 

15 The Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars on the organisa¬ 
tion of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, dated January 28, 
was published in the newspaper Znamya Truda (Banner of Labour) 
on January 31 and in Pravda and Izvestia on February 1, 1918; 
the Decree was signed by V. Ulyanov (Lenin) as Chairman of the 
Council of People’s Commissars. p. 29 



16 The Fundamental Law on the Socialisation of the Land was dis¬ 

cussed and parts of it approved on January 31 by the Third All- 
Russia Congress of Soviets. In its final form it was approved by the 
All-Russia Central Executive Committee on February 9, and publi¬ 
shed in Izvestia No. 28 on February 19, 1918. p. 31 

17 On June 18, 1917, Kerensky, head of the Provisional Government, 

issued an order to launch an offensive on the South-Western front. 
The Russian bourgeoisie and the obedient Provisional Government 
were in favour of continuing the war. p. 32 

18 The Duma was a Russian representative body with very limited 
legislative functions. The bourgeois-democratic revolution that 
began in January 1905 compelled the tsarist government to make 
concessions and convene the Duma. The Bolsheviks boycotted the 
elections to the First Duma (January-February 190G) anticipating 
the further growth of the revolution. 

By the autumn of 1906 they changed their tactics and took part 
in the elections to the Second Duma, because the revolution was 
on the decline. After the defeat of the revolution, when a period 
of reaction and terror set in, the Bolsheviks participated in the 
elections to the Third Duma in order to use its rostrum to expose 
the policy of tsarism and conduct revolutionary agitation. p. 34 

19 The All-Russia Democratic Conference was held in Petrograd from 

September 27 to October 5, 1917. The conference was attended by 
representatives of socialist parties, Soviets, trade unions, Zemstvos, 
commercial and industrial circles and army units. The Mensheviks 
and Socialist-Revolutionaries were dominant among the delegates. 
The Bolsheviks attended the conference for the purpose of expos¬ 
ing the plans of the conciliators, the Socialist-Revolutionaries and 
Mensheviks, who hoped to stem the revolution and turn Russia 
on to the path of bourgeois parliamentarism. p. 34 

20 “Opportunists of October ” refers to Zinoviev and Kamenev, who 

opposed the insurrection in October 1917 and betrayed the Central 
Committee resolution on the armed uprising. Lenin branded them 
as strike-breakers and demanded their expulsion from the Party 
in his “Letter to the Members of the Bolshevik Party” and “Letter 
to the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.” p. 35 

21 Novy Luch {New Ray)—organ of the Central Committee of the 
Mensheviks, the opportunist trend among Russian Social-Democrats. 
The Mensheviks were the actual vehicles of bourgeois influence 
among the working class. After the October Socialist Revolution 
they became an open counter-revolutionary party, the organisers of 
and participants in conspiracies and revolts against Soviet power. 
Novy Luch was published in Petrograd under the editorship of Dan, 
Martov and Martynov from December 14, 1917, until it was sup¬ 
pressed in June 1918. 

Dyelo Naroda (People’s Cause)—organ of the Socialist-Revolu¬ 
tionaries, a petty-bourgeois party founded in 1902. It was published 



in Petrograd and later in Samara and Moscow with intervals from 
March 1917 to March 1919, sometimes changing its title. 

Novaya Zhizn (New Life)—a newspaper published from April 

1917 in Petrograd, around which a Menshevik group was formed. 
After the October Revolution the group adopted a position hostile 
to Soviet power. The paper was suppressed in July 1918. p. 37 

22 The Moscow Regional Bureau of the R.S.D.L.P. in 1917 and early 

1918 was the central body of the Party organisations of the Central 

Industrial Area of Russia, which included the following gubernias: 
Moscow, Yaroslavl, Tver, Kostroma, Vladimir, Voronezh, Smolensk, 
Nizhni-Novgorod, Tula, Ryazan, Tambov, Kaluga and Orel. At the 
time of the Party struggle for the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk the 
leadership in the Moscow Bureau was temporarily in the hands 
of the “Left Communists” (Bukharin, Osinsky, Lomov, Stukov, 
Sapronov, Mantsev, Yakovleva and others). p. 39 

23 The Fourth (Extraordinary) All-Russia Congress of Soviets was 
held in Moscow on March 14, 15 and 16, 1918. The Congress was 
called to decide on the ratification of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. 
Lenin delivered a report in favour of ratification, and the Left 
Socialist-Revolutionary Kamkov, against it. A roll-call vote was 
held and Lenin’s motion to ratify the treaty was adopted with 784 
delegates for, 261 against and 115 abstaining: among those abstain¬ 
ing were the “Left Communists” who, contrary to the decision of 
the Central Committee, read a special declaration at the Congress. 

p. 48 

2,4 This refers to the workers’ and soldiers’ demonstrations on April 
20 and 21, 1917, in Petrograd, Moscow and other cities demanding 
peace and opposing the continuation of the imperialist war. The 
April demonstrations marked the beginning of the crisis of the 
bourgeois Provisional Government. p. 50 

25 This refers to the peaceful demonstrations of Petrograd workers 
on July 3 and 4, 1917, that were fired on by troops and dispersed. 
Following these events state power passed fully into the hands of 
the counter-revolutionary Provisional Government. The peaceful 
period of the revolution had come to an end, and the Bolsheviks 
were confronted with the task of preparing an armed uprising to 
overthrow the Provisional Government. p. 50 

2(1 A counter-revolutionary revolt was raised by General Kornilov in 
August and September 1917. In response to an appeal by the 
Bolsheviks the masses rose against Kornilov and crushed the revolt. 

p. 50 

27 This statement was made by Dubasov, an army officer, in the 

Petrograd Soviet on October 5, 1917, during the discussion follow¬ 
ing the report on the Democratic Conference. p. 59 

28 These “theses” were discussed at a joint meeting of members of 
the Central Committee of the Party and the “Left Communists” 
on April 4, 1918. In the theses the “Left Communists” tried to 



justify their struggle against the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and 
against Lenin’s plan for socialist construction. p. 69 

29 The Second All-Ukraine Congress of Soviets was held in Ekaterin- 

oslavl (now Dnepropetrovsk) from March 17 to March 20, 1918. 
The Congress declared the independence of the Ukrainian Soviet 
Republic and the inviolability of fraternal relations between Soviet 
republics, and called upon the workers and peasants of the Ukraine 
to fight resolutely against the German occupants. The “Left Com¬ 
munists” tried to use the All-Ukraine Congress of Soviets for their 
own provocative aims; they put forward the motion that the 
Congress condemn the conclusion of the Brest-Litovsk peace by 
the Russian Soviet Government, a motion that amounted to a split. 
By a majority of 408 against 308 the Congress adopted the Bol¬ 
shevik resolution on war and peace and by a majority of 420 
against 290 rejected the motion on the non-recognition of the 
Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. p. 70 

30 Kommunist —the factional journal of the “Left Communists” 

published in Moscow from April 20 to June 1918; four issues 
appeared. p. 72 

31 Chapter XXV of Part Six of the book On War by Karl von 

Clausewitz deals with withdrawal into the interior of the country 
as a means of defence. p. 76 

32 On the conclusion of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Soviet 

Government began to elaborate plans for the development of com¬ 
mercial relations with capitalist countries. The main purpose was 
to provide the leading branches of industry and agriculture with 
means of production; the development of economic relations with 
the U.S.A. was considered of great importance. The Foreign Trade 
Co mmi ssion of the Committee on Economic Policy of the Supreme 
Economic Council elaborated a plan (May 12, 1918) for the devel¬ 
opment of economic relations under which goods imported from 
the U.S.A. were to be paid for by granting American businessmen 
concessions on certain terms. The Soviet Government also attempted 
to establish economic relations with other countries. Plans for the 
development of foreign trade, however, were frustrated by the 
Entente which launched armed intervention against the Soviet 
Union and put into effect an economic blockade. p. 78 

33 On July 6, 1918, the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries organised the 
assassination of Mirbach, the German Ambassador, for the purpose 
of preventing the implementation of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk 
and inciting war between Soviet- Russia and Germany. Because of 
the assassination, the German Government demanded that a batta¬ 
lion of German soldiers be quartered in Moscow to guard the 
embassy. A meeting of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee 
was called on July 16; it approved the statement issued by Lenin 
as Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars refusing to 
accede to the demand of the German Government. The firm posi- 



tion adopted by the Soviet Government prevented the collapse of 
the peace treaty. p. 79 

34 The counter-revolutionary mutiny of the Czechoslovak Army Corps 
was organised by the imperialists of the Entente with the partici¬ 
pation of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. The Pro¬ 
visional Government formed the Corps in 1917 from Czech and 
Slovak prisoners of war to fight against the Germans. After the 
October Revolution the Corps was used by Russian counter-revolu¬ 
tionaries and the British and French imperialists to fight against 
Soviet power. In May 1918, the officers commanding the Corps 
succeeded in persuading some of the Czech and Slovak soldiers to 
revolt. Assisted by the Corps the whiteguards seized the Volgaside 
area, the Urals and then Siberia. A large number of the Czech and 
Slovak soldiers were not deceived by the propaganda of their 
officers, twelve thousand of them fighting in the ranks of the Red 

The Volgaside was liberated by the Red Army in October 1918. 
The counter-revolutionary offensive of the Czechoslovak Army 
Corps was completely defeated at the same time as Kolchak (at 
the end of 1919). p. 81 

35 British, French and American interventionists landed in Murmansk 

in March 1918; in July they captured Onega and in August entered 
Archangel where a counter-revolutionary revolt was organised and 
the whiteguard “Government of the North Russia’’ established. The 
Northern Front, consisting of the 6th and 7th Armies, was created 
to check the advance of the interventionists. The whiteguard and 
interventionist troops were finally defeated in this area early in 
1920. p. 81 

30 The Fifth All-Russia Congress of Soviets opened on July 4, 1918; 
Lenin delivered the report on the work of the Council of People’s 
Commissars and Sverdlov on the work of the All-Russia Central 
Executive Committee. At this Congress the Left Socialist-Revolu¬ 
tionaries flatly opposed all Bolshevik proposals. The Congress 
adopted a resolution approving the home and foreign policy of 
the Soviet Government. It was interrupted on July 6 by the counter¬ 
revolutionary revolt of the Socialist-Revolutionaries and re-opened 
on July 9. The Congress discussed a report on the food question 
and on the formation of the Red Army; it also adopted the first 
Soviet Constitution. p. 82 

37 This session was called because of the serious situation in the 
Soviet Republic which, on account of the foreign intervention and 
the whiteguard revolts, was cut off from the chief food, fuel and 
raw material sources. The meeting unanimously adopted a resolution 
on Lenin’s report proposed by the Communist group. p. 85 

38 The article referred to was entitled “French Millions” and was 
published on June 28, 1918 in Prukopnik Svobodg (Banner of 
Freedom), organ of the Czechoslovak Communist group, which was 



published in Moscow in 1918 and 1919. The article was reprinted 
in full in Pravda and in part in Izvestia on the same day. p. 86 

39 The counter-revolutionary revolt of the Left Socialist-Revolutionaries 
took place in Moscow on July 6, 1918, during the Fifth All-Russia 
Congress of Soviets and was suppressed that same day. p. 88 

40 The Dashnaktsutyun, or Dashnak Party —an Armenian bourgeois- 

nationalist party that was founded in the early nineties of the 
nineteenth century. It fomented national hatred between peoples 
and pursued a policy of the national isolation of Armenia, striving 
to divert the masses from the all-Russia revolutionary movement. 
From 1918 to 1920 the Dashnaks headed the bourgeois-nationalist 
government of Armenia and tried to turn the country into an Anglo- 
French base for intervention against Soviet power. The Dashnak 
government was overthrown in November 1920 by an insurrection 
of the Armenian people supported by the Red Army. p. 88 

41 At a meeting of the Baku Soviet on July 25, 1918, the Socialist- 

Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and Dashnaks, by a small majority, 
adopted a treacherous decision to appeal to the British imperialists 
for help (on the pretext of defending Baku from the Turks). A 
motion by the Bolshevik group that the defence of Baku by their 
own forces be immediately organised, was rejected. Soviet power 
in Baku came to an end on July 31, and on August 1 the agents 
of the Entente, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks and 
Dashnaks, formed a counter-revolutionary government which was 
known as the “Dictatorship of the Central Caspian”. Shahumyan, 
Japaridze, Azizbekov, Fioletov, Zevin and others, altogether twenty- 
six commissars, and some other leaders were arrested in Baku and 
later shot by the British interventionists with the direct participa¬ 
tion of the Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. p. 90 

42 Cadets —members of the Constitutional-Democratic Party, the chief 

liberal-monarchist party of the Russian bourgeoisie. The party was 
formed in October 1905, its membership including bourgeois ele¬ 
ments, Zemstvo officials from the landowning class and bourgeois 
intellectuals. After Ihe October Revolution the Cadets became the 
implacable enemies of Soviet power. p. 93 

43 The decree was adopted by the All-Russia Central Executive Com¬ 
mittee on June 11, 1918; its full name was “Decree on the Organi¬ 
sation of the Village Poor and the Supply to them of Grain, 
Consumer Goods and Farm Implements” The decree set up Com¬ 
mittees of the Poor Peasants that helped strengthen Soviet power 
in the countryside; the great political significance of the Commit¬ 
tees was that they won the middle peasants over to the side of 
Soviet power. By a decision of the Sixth (Extraordinary) Congress 
of Soviets, November 9, 1918, the Committees of the Poor Peasants 
were considered to have fulfilled their mission and were merged 
with the Soviets, thus ceasing to exist as separate bodies. p. 95 

44 The whiteguard revolt in Yaroslavl began on July 6, 1918. It was 
organised by the counter-revolutionary Union for the Defence of the 



Fatherland and Freedom which was under the leadership of B. 
Savinkov, a Right Socialist-Revolutionary. The Yaroslavl revolt, 
like other whiteguard revolts in this period, was prepared by the 
imperialists of the Entente with the active participation of the 
Mensheviks and Socialist-Revolutionaries. The organisation of these 
revolts was part of the general plan of intervention in Russia. The 
Yaroslavl revolt was put down by Red Army forces on July 21, 1918. 

p. 95 

45 Under the Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars dated 

June 28, 1918, all big industry was nationalised. p. 96 

46 The Decree on Workers’ Control in Industry (Instructions on 

Workers’ Control) was adopted on November 27, 1917, by the All- 
Russia Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s 
Commissars. It was based on the draft instructions drawn up by 
Lenin at the end of October. p. 99 

47 This letter was published by socialist-internationalists in New York 

and later in pamphlet form as a reprint from the journal; the 
letter has been reprinted many times in American and West- 
European publications. p. 102 

48 The man in a muffler —a character in a story of the same name 

by Anton Chekhov; he was limited in his outlook, and feared all 
initiative and everything new. p. 109 

40 Appeal to Reason —an American socialist newspaper founded in 
Kansas in 1895; during the First World War it adopted an interna¬ 
tionalist position. p. 110 

50 At this Congress Lenin spoke on the anniversary of the October 
Revolution and on the international situation. The Congress unani¬ 
mously adopted the resolution on the international situation that 
Lenin had drawn up and which had been approved on October 22, 
1918, by a joint meeting of the All-Russia Central Executive Com¬ 
mittee, the Moscow Soviet, factory committees and trade unions. 

The Congress approved an appeal to the governments fighting 
against Russia to start peace negotiations. p. 117 

51 At the time of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848-49, Tsar Nicholas 1 
sent Russian troops to the aid of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary. 

p. 125 

52 This refers to the suppression of the Polish insurrection by tsarist 

troops, 1863-64. p. 125 

53 This refers to the Treaty of Versailles which the Allies imposed on 

Germany after her defeat in the First World War (1914-18). The 
Treaty was signed on June 28, 1919, and Germany lost all her 
former colonies and a considerable part of her own territory; 
Germany had to pay huge reparations and her armed forces were 
reduced to a minimum. p. 126 

54 The Dutch Government suddenly refused the envoy of the R.S.F.S.R, 
permission to enter Holland although he was already en route and 



there had been a preliminary agreement on the exchange of 
diplomatic representatives. p. 127 

55 On November 5, 1918, the German Government broke off diplomatic 
relations with the R.S.F.S.R. and expelled the staff of the Soviet 
Embassy from Berlin on the pretext that official Soviet represent¬ 
atives had been conducting agitation against German state institu¬ 
tions. Diplomatic relations were not resumed until 1922. p. 127 

66 Troisikme Internationale (Third International) —the weekly 

newspaper of the French Communists, published in Moscow in 
1918-19. p. 128 

57 This sum represents the tsarist government’s debts to the impe¬ 
rialists of Britain, France, the U.S.A., Germany and other countries, 
being the total amount of the loans received by the tsarist and 
Provisional governments. A Decree of the All-Russia Central 
Executive Committee dated February 3, 1918, annulled all foreign 
loans obtained by the tsarist government and the Provisional 
Government; this freed the country from bondage to foreign capital. 

p. 128 

58 The Eighth Party Congress adopted the new Programme of the 
Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) that had been drawn up 
by a Commission under Lenin’s chairmanship. The Programme 
laid down the tasks of the Party for the entire period of transition 
from capitalism to socialism. During the discussion on the 
Programme the Congress rejected the anti-Bolshevik views of 
Bukharin who proposed removing from the Programme the descrip¬ 
tion of pre-monopolist capitalism and simple commodity production; 
he also opposed the inclusion of the clause on the right of nations 
to self-determination. 

The Congress heard Lenin’s report on work in the rural areas 
and adopted a decision to go over from the policy of neutralising 
the mi ddle peasant to one of a strong alliance between him and the 
proletariat, with the latter maintaining the leading role in this 
alliance. The Congress passed a resolution to found a regular Red 
Army imbued with a spirit of iron discipline. p. 137 

59 The Princes Islands Conference was planned by Lloyd George and 
Woodrow Wilson as a conference of representatives of the Entente 
and of all governments then existing on the territory of Russia to 
discuss the cessation of hostilities and the restoration of peace in 
Russia. The Allied powers officially announced the convening of 
the conference on January .22, 1919. The Soviet Government did 
not receive an invitation to the conference and learned from foreign 
press reviews sent out by wireless that the imperialist powers were 
informing the public that the absence of a reply from the Soviet 
Government was to be interpreted as a refusal to participate. To 
counteract this false interpretation of their actions, the Soviet 
Government on February 4, 1919, sent a note by wireless to the 
governments of Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and the U.S.A. 
agreeing to begin negotiations immediately and indicating that for 



the sake of peace they were willing to make important concessions. 
The Soviet Government did not deny the possibility that the finan¬ 
cial obligations of the tsarist government would be recognised 
and proposed submitting that question to a special discussion; they 
also agreed to grant concessions to nationals of the Entente, but 
of dimensions and on terms such as would not affect the social 
and economic system of the Soviet Republic. The Soviet Govern¬ 
ment also agreed to negotiations on questions of territorial conces¬ 
sions. The Soviet declaration put an end to the negotiations game 
of Entente diplomacy undertaken for purposes of provocation and 
provided a basis for real, effective negotiations. The Entente govern¬ 
ments did not reply to the Soviet Government’s note. The 
whiteguard governments, on instructions from the Entente, an¬ 
nounced their refusal to participate and the conference did not take 
place. p. 137 

60 Spartacus League (Spartakus Bund) was formed in January 1916 

in Germany; among its leaders were Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Lux¬ 
emburg, Franz Mehring, Clara Zetkin and Wilhelm Pieck. The 
League conducted revolutionary propaganda among the masses 
against the imperialist war, and exposed the annexationist policy 
of German imperialism and the treachery of the Right Social- 
Democratic leaders. In April 1917 the Spartacists joined the 
centrist Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany but 
retained organisational autonomy. After the German Revolution in 
November 1918, the Spartacists broke away from the In¬ 
dependents and in December of the same year formed the Com¬ 
munist Party of Germany. p. 142 

61 This article was written in reply to five questions put to Lenin 

by the United Press Agency. (1) Has the Russian Soviet Republic 
made any small or big changes in the original government pro¬ 
gramme of home and foreign policy and in the economic programme, 
if so, when and in what way? (2) What are the tactics of the 
Russian Soviet Republic towards Afghanistan, India and other 
Moslem countries beyond the frontiers of Russia? (3) What polit¬ 
ical and economic aims do you pursue in respect of the United 
States and Japan? (4) On what terms would you be willing 'to 
conclude peace with Kolchak, Denikin and Mannerheim? (5) What 
else have you to bring to the notice of the American public-? In 
October 1919 The Liberator, an American Left-socialist journal, 
published an article “A Statement and a Challenge” whfch contained 
Lenin’s answer to the fifth question, with an editorial comment 
to the effect that the United Press Agency had distributed Lenin’s 
answers to the press but had omitted the fifth as “pure Bolshevik 
propaganda”. p. 143 

62 The Autonomous Bashkirian Soviet Republic was formed as a 
result of an agreement between the central Soviet authorities and 
the Bashkirian Government. The agreement was approved by the 
Council of People’s Commissars and the All-Russia Central Execu¬ 
tive Committee on March 20, 1919, and published in the press on 



March 23. According to the agreement the Bashkirian Republic 
joined the R.S.F.S.R. as a member of the federation. p. 144 

63 Japanese, U.S., British and French interventionist troops landed 

in the Far Fast in the spring of 1918. Partisan warfare against the 
interventionists and the whiteguards continued throughout the 
period of the intervention. The interventionists were finally driven 
out of the country in October 1922. p. 145 

64 William Bullitt came to Moscow on the instructions of President 
Woodrow Wilson for peace talks, which were carried on in March 
1919. The Soviet Government introduced a number of amendments 
and addenda to the proposals put forward by the U.S.A. and 
Britain, after which a final draft of an agreement was drawn up. 
The draft agreement envisaged the retention of all governments 
then existing in Russia on the territory they occupied, the restora¬ 
tion of trade relations, safe transit for the Soviet Government on all 
railways and the use of all ports belonging to the former Russian 
Empire, the recognition by the Russian governments of the 
financial obligations of the former Empire, etc. On the proposal 
of the Soviet Government, a formula was introduced which said 
that immediately after the conclusion of the agreement (and not 
after the demobilisation of the Russian army, as the Entente 
proposed) all foreign troops would be withdrawn from Russia and 
all military support for the anti-Soviet governments would cease. 

The plan put forward by Britain and the U.S.A. amounted to 
the partitioning of Russia into a number of separate states. Lenin, 
however, believed it possible to accept such an agreement, since 
if would end the intervention and give the Soviet Republic a peace¬ 
ful respite. Lenin proceeded from the knowledge that the counter¬ 
revolutionary governments remained in power only with the help 
of the interventionists and would be swept away by the people 
when they were withdrawn. 

The Soviet proposals were not accepted by the U.S. and 
British governments because Kolchak’s army launched an offensive 
in the spring of 1919 and they hoped the Soviet Republic would 
be crushed by armed force. Wilson did not receive Bullitt, and 
Lloyd George announced in Parliament that he had not authorised 
anyone to negotiate with the Bolsheviks. p. 145 

65 On May 7, 1919, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs Chicberin 
sent a wireless message to Fridtjof Nansen, the famous Arctic 
explorer and prominent public figure, in reply to Nansen’s message 
to Lenin received by wireless on May 4, 1919. Nansen proposed 
the organisation of an international commission to aid Russia by 
supplying food and medicines. He stated that the Entente agreed 
to support such a commission on the condition that hostilities in 
Russia ceased. In his message, Chicherin said that the Soviet 
Government agreed to the plan, but rejected the Entente terms, 
regarding them as an attempt to preserve the counter-revolutionary 
whiteguard governments on the outskirts of Russia. The Soviet 
Government agreed to conduct negotiations on the cessation of 



hostilities only together with other questions concerning the end 
of the intervention and civil war. The Soviet Government’s proposal 
was not answered. p. 145 

66 This Congress was held in Moscow from November 22 to December 

3, 1919. A preliminary conference of members of the Central Com¬ 
mittee and a group of Congress delegates was held on November 
21 under Lenin’s chairmanship. The Congress was attended by 80 
delegates from communist organisations in Turkestan, Azerbaijan, 
Khiva, Bukhara, Kirghizia, Tataria, Chuvashia, Bashkiria, the 
Caucasus, etc. Lenin delivered a report on the current situation on 
the first day of the Congress. The Congress discussed the report 
on the work of the Central Bureau of the Communist Organisations 
of the Peoples of the East, elected a new Bureau and outlined the 
tasks of Party and government work in the East. p. 152 

67 The Constituent Assembly Committee was the whiteguard-Socialist- 

Revolutionary government formed in Samara in June 1918. It was 
disbanded at the end of 1918. p. 154 

68 At the conference session on December 2, 1919, Lenin submitted 

a draft resolution on the international situation. It was approved 
by the conference and announced by Lenin on December 5, in 
his report to the Seventh All-Russia Congress of Soviets, and was 
accepted unanimously as a proposal of peace to the Entente 
countries. The resolution was published in the press on December 
6 and handed to representatives of the Entente on December 10. 
The British, French, U.S., and Italian governments refused to 
examine the Soviet proposal. p. 165 

69 The agenda of this Congress was: (1) the reports of the All-Russia 

Central Executive Committee and the Council of People’s Com¬ 
missars; (2) the situation at the front; (3) the Communist Interna¬ 
tional; (4) the food situation; (5) the fuel problem; (6) Soviet 
organisation at the centre and locally; (7) elections to the Central 
Executive Committee. p. 167 

70 The session lasted from February 2 to February 7, 1920. The 

session approved the “Appeal of the All-Russia Central Executive 
Committee to the Polish People” and ratified the peace treaty 
with Estonia. p. 183 

71 Lenin read the report published in the Moscow newspapers of 
January 18, 1920, that the governments of the Entente intended 
to lift the blockade and sanction trade with Soviet Russia. The 
decision passed by the Allied Council on January 16, 1920, 
stressed that these measures did not mean any change in the 
policy of the Allied governments towards the Soviet Government. 

p. 184 

72 The negotiations between Soviet Russia and Estonia began on 

December 5, 1919. The peace treaty was signed on February 2, 
1920, in Yuriev (now Tartu). p. 185 



73 The whiteguard officer Oleinikov was carrying documents from 

S. D. Sazonov in Paris, through Sweden to Yudenich. He sided 
with the revolution and handed the documents over to the Soviet 
authorities. The persons mentioned in the documents were: Sazo¬ 
nov, Foreign Minister in the tsarist government and Kolchak’s 
government and the representative of Kolchak and Denikin in 
Paris; Gulkevich, Kolchak’s envoy in Sweden; Bakhmetev, Kolchak’s 
ambassador to Washington; Sukin, head of the Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs in Omsk; Sablin, Kolchak’s charge d’affaires in 
London; Knox, an English general, the British Government 
representative to Kolchak’s government. p. 188 

74 The “Supreme Ruler” referred to was Kolchak. p. 189 

75 This refers to the Red Cross negotiations on an exchange of 

prisoners, the return of refugees, etc. p. 191 

76 On January 28. 1920, the Council of People’s Commissars approved 
the “Declaration of the Council of People’s Commissars of the 
R.S.F.S.R. on the Fundamentals of Soviet Policy in Respect of 
Poland”; it was dispatched by wireless and published in the 
Moscow newspapers. On February 2, 1920, the First Session of the 
All-Russia Central Executive Committee, Seventh Convocation, 
approved an Appeal to the Polish People. This appeal exposed 
the slander of the imperialist powers to the effect that Soviet 
Russia intended annexing parts of Poland and stressed the Soviet 
Government’s unwavering effort to achieve peace and establish 
friendly, good-neighbourly relations with independent Poland. 

p. 192 

77 The Autonomous Tatar Soviet Republic was formed on May 27, 

1920; the decree of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee 
and the Council of People’s Commissars on the formation of the 
republic was signed by Lenin and Kalinin. p. 193 

78 This passage refers to a decree of the All-Russia Central Executive 

Committee on the union of the Soviet republics of Russia, the 
Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Byelorussia for the struggle 
against armed intervention; the decree was adopted on June 1, 
1919; it was approved by the Central Executive Committee of the 
Ukraine on June 14. p. 194 

79 The questions were sent to Lenin by wireless through the Berlin 
representative and the answers were wirelessed back to Berlin, and 
on February 21, 1920, transmitted to New York. That same evening 
the paper published Lenin’s answers. The text of the answers was 
also published in the German communist and socialist press, p. 198 

80 The Daily Express special correspondent in Copenhagen asked 

Lenin to answer four questions. Lenin’s answers were received in 
Copenhagen on February 22 and appeared in the newspaper on 
the following day. P- 202 

61 This refers to the work of the State Commission for the Electrifi¬ 
cation of Russia (GOELRO) which was set up in accordance with 



Lenin’s proposal in February and March 1920 and in fulfilment 
of a decree of the First Session of the All-Russia Central Executive 
Committee, Seventh Convocation, held from February 2 to February 
7, 1920. The plan for the electrification of Russia, elaborated by 
mid-December on the initiative and under the guidance of Lenin, 
was a scientifically-based, long-term state plan for the rehabilita¬ 
tion and development of the economy of the Soviet Republic in 
the course of socialist construction p. 202 

82 Lenin’s talk with Lincoln Eyre took place in mid-February 1920. 

The talk lasted over an hour; it was carried on in English, at first 
in Lenin’s workrooln and then in his apartment in the Kremlin. 
The cross-heads are those provided by The World. p. 204 

83 Peace negotiations between the Soviet Republic and Latvia and 
Lithuania began in Moscow in April and May 1920 and ended in 
the conclusion of treaties—with Lithuania on July 12, 1920, in 
Moscow, and with Latvia on August 11, 1920, in Riga. p. 208 

84 This Congress was opened in the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, by 

Lenin, who made the opening speech; he also delivered the report 
on the work of the Central Committee of the Party and closed the 
discussion on the report. The Ninth Congress was called at the 
time of a peaceful respite and dealt mainly with economic problems. 
The Congress defeated the anti-Party “democratic centralism” 
group (Sapronov, Osinsky and others) who, together with Rykov 
and Tomsky, opposed one-man management and the personal 
responsibility of executives. p. 210 

85 The revolution in Finland began at the end of January 1918 

in the southern industrial areas of the country which included 
such important towns as Helsingfors {now Helsinki) and Vyborg. 
On January 28, 1918, the Finnish Red Guard occupied Helsingfors, 
the capital, where a revolutionary government was set up known 
as the Council of People’s Representatives of Finland. Svinhufvud’s 
bourgeois government appealed to the Swedish and German 
bourgeoisie for assistance. Svinhufvud established himself in the 
north, formed whiteguard kulak detachments and, with the sup¬ 
port of Swedes, Germans and Russian whiteguard officers, began 
an offensive towards the south. In May, after more than three 
•months of civil war, the workers’ revolution was crushed with the 
aid of a German expeditionary force 20.000 strong. p. 214 

86 The Hungarian Soviet Republic was formed on March 21, 1919. 
In August 1919, Soviet power in Hungary was crushed by the 
united efforts of the imperialist intervention and internal counter¬ 
revolution, aided by the treachery of the Right Social-Democrats. 

p. 214 

87 Soviet-Finnish peace negotiations began on June 12, 1920, in 

Yuriev (Tartu) and ended on October 14 when a peace treaty was 
signed. p. 216 

88 Poland’s agreement to start negotiations was merely a manoeuvre 
to cover war preparations against the Soviet Republic. In reply to 

the Soviet Government’s many proposals (December 22, 1919, 
January 28, February 2 and March 6, 1920), the Polish Government 
gave its consent only on March 27, 1920, and proposed holding the 
talks in the town of Borisov, in the vicinity of the front, and 
ceasing hostilities on that sector only. The Polish Government 
replied to the Soviet proposal to cease all hostilities and hold the 
peace negotiations in some neutral country by a refusal in the 
form of an ultimatum. Having sabotaged the negotiations, the 
Polish reactionaries launched their war against the Soviet Republic 
on April 25, 1920. p. 216 

89 Lenin alludes to the preparations for a military-monarchist putsch 

in Germany. The leader of the German reactionary militarists, 
Kapp, gave his name to the revolt known as the “Kapp putsch 
it was prepared with the obvious complicity of the Social- 
Democratic government. On March 13, 1920, army units were 
moved to Berlin and, meeting with no resistance from the govern¬ 
ment, declared it dissolved and formed a new government. The 
German working class responded with a general strike and on 
March 17, under pressure from the working class, Kapp’s govern¬ 
ment fell and state power again passed into the hands of the 
Social-Democrats. p. 216 

90 This letter was published in June 1920 in the British Socialist 

Party’s weekly The Call , in the Labour Party’s Daily Herald, in 
the bourgeois Manchester Guardian and other papers. p. 219 

91 These draft theses were published on June 14, 1920, in the journal 

Communist International No. 11 and served as the basis of the 
work of the commission on the national and colonial questions at 
the Second Congress of the Comintern. Lenin reported to the 
Congress on behalf of the commission (see pp. 250-55 of this 
volume). p. 224 

92 This conference was called by the Central Committee of the 
RwC.P.(B.); it was held from June 10 to June 15, 1920. The 
conference approved a manifesto To All Workers of the World. 
The manifesto greeted the British, Hungarian, Italian and other 
workers who had passed a decision to prevent the dispatch of 
military equipment and troops to aid the reactionary Polish 
Government that was conducting a war against Soviet Russia. 

p. 232 

93 The eastern frontiers of Poland as delineated in the declaration of 

the Allied Council on December 8, 1919, followed the line Grodno, 
Yalovka, Nemirov, Brest-Litovsk, Dorogusk, Ustilug, east of 
Grubeshov, through Krylov, west of Rawa-Ruska, east of Peremyshl 
to the Carpathians. This was later known as the “Curzon line”. 
In its peace proposals the Soviet Government was prepared to 
accept a Polish-Soviet, frontier even more easterly than the Curzon 
line. p. 233 

9/ * National Democracy (Demokracja narodowa) —the chief reactionary 
nationalist party of the Polish landowners and bourgeoisie, that 




was closely bound up with the Catholic church; it was founded in 

The National-Democrats were extremely hostile to the October 
Socialist Revolution and the Soviet state, but, following their 
traditional anti-German position, did not always support Poland’s 
anti-Soviet foreign policy. p. 237 

95 The Octobrists were members of the Party of October the Seven¬ 
teenth formed in Russia after the publication of the tsar’s 
manifesto of that date. 

The manifesto promised to introduce “civil liberties” and 
“legislative organisations”. Actually it was a political manoeuvre 
on the part of the autocracy to gain time and split the forces of the 

The Octobrists were a counter-revolutionary party protecting 
the interests of the big bourgeoisie and the landowners who ran 
their estates on capitalist lines. The Octobrists gave their full 
support to the home and foreign policy of the tsarist government. 

p. 237 

96 This Congress opened in Petrograd but subsequent sessions were 
held in Moscow. It was attended by over 200 delegates representing 
the working-class organisations of 37 countries. In addition to 
representatives of Communist parties and organisations (from 31 
countries) the Congress was attended by delegates from the 
Independent Social-Democratic Party of Germany, the SociaUst 
parties of Italy and France, the Industrial Workers of the World 
(Australia, Britain, Ireland), the Spanish National Confederation 
of Labour and others. Lenin spoke on the international situation, 
the fundamental tasks of the Communist International and other 
questions. Lenin’s theses on the basic tasks of the Second Congress 
of the Communist International, the national and colonial questions, 
and the agrarian question, and his 21 conditions of admission to 
the Communist International were adopted as a decision of the 
Congress. The Congress passed a resolution exposing the Entente 
as the real instigators of Polish intervention and called upon the 
world working class to defend Soviet Russia. 

The Second Congress laid down the basic programme, organ¬ 
isational principles, strategy and tactics of the Communist Interna¬ 
tional. p. 240 

87 The Two-and-a-Half International, also known as the Vienna 
International—the International Working Union of Socialist 
Parties, to give its official title, was formed in Vienna in Feb¬ 
ruary 1921 at a conference of centrist parties and groups who had 
been forced to make a formal break with the bankrupt Second 
International under pressure from the masses. It was joined by 
centrist parties and groups from Austria, Britain, Germany, France, 
the U.S.A. and other countries. The leaders of the Two-and-a- 
Half International actually continued the policy of the opportunist 
Second International under cover of revolutionary phrases. In 
words they recognised the October Socialist Revolution and the 



dictatorship of the proletariat but were actually hostile to Soviet 
power and the Third, Communist International; they sabotaged 
united front tactics. In 1923, when the revolutionary movement 
began to subside, the Second and Two-and-a-Half Internationals 
merged following a decision taken at the Hamburg Unity Congress 
in May 1923. p. 248 

98 President Wilson’s “Fourteen Points” were peace terms outlined 
in his message to the Congress on January 8, 1918. They were: 
(1) open peace covenants; (2) freedom of the seas; (3) free trade, 
the removal of tariff barriers; (4) the guaranteed reduction of 
armaments; (5) the settlement of colonial questions; (6) the settle¬ 
ment of the Russian question; (7) the liberation of Belgium; (8) 
the return of Alsace and Lorraine to France; (9) the readjustment 
of the Italian frontier on national principles; (10) autonomy for 
the peoples of Austria-Hungary; (11) the liberation of the German- 
occupied territories of Rumania, Serbia and Montenegro, and 
Serbia to be given free access to the sea; (12) the independent 
existence of Turkey and autonomy for the non-Turkish parts of 
the Ottoman Empire; (13) the foundation of an independent 
Polish state; (14) the establishment of the League of Nations. 

This demagogic peace programme, which Wilson tried to 
counterpose to the Soviet Decree on Peace, reflected the U.S. 
endeavour to achieve world hegemony by weakening Britain, 
France and Japan, its allies in the First World War. The 
expansionist character of the programme was well illustrated in 
the official commentary to the Fourteen Points, written by Walter 
Lippmann and F. Cobb and approved by Wilson on October 30, 
1918, and a number of other American diplomatic documents 
dating back to 1918 and 1919. As can be seen from these com¬ 
mentaries U.S. ruling circles understood “the settlement of the 
Russian question” to mean support for the whiteguard govern¬ 
ments, the partitioning of Russia and her subordination to foreign 
control. p. 248 

99 The Commission on the National and Colonial Questions was set 
up at the Second Congress of the Communist International from 
among representatives of the Comimmist Parties of Soviet Russia, 
Bulgaria, France, Holland, Germany, Hungary, the U.S.A., India, 
Persia, China, Korea, Great Britain and others. The Commission 
worked under the chairmanship of Lenin, whose theses on the 
national and colonial questions were discussed at the fourth and 
fifth sessions of the Congress and approved on July 28, 1920. 

p. 252 

100 The British Socialist Party was founded at Manchester in 1911 
by the union of the Social-Democratic and other socialist groups. 
The B.S.P. conducted Marxist propaganda, but its membership was 
small, its contacts with the masses were weak and it was, there¬ 
fore, somewhat sectarian. During the First World War a sharp 
struggle developed between the internationalist trend (Albert Ink- 
pin, Theodore Rothstein, John Maclean, William Gallacher and 



others) and the social-chauvinist trend headed by Hyndman. 
Among the internationalist trend there were some wavering 
elements who occupied a centrist position on certain questions. 
The annual conference of the B.S.F. at Salford in April 1916 
condemned the social-chauvinist position of Hyndman and his 
supporters and they left the party. 

The B.S.P. welcomed the October Socialist Revolution, and its 
members played an important part in the British workers’ move¬ 
ment for the defence of Soviet Russia against foreign intervention. 
The B.S.P., together with the Communist Unity Group, was mainly 
responsible for the foundation of the Communist Party of Great 
Britain. At the first unity congress, held in 1920, most of the local 
B.S.P. organisations entered the Communist Party. p. 257 

101 The Basle Manifesto (1912) against war was unanimously adopted 

by the Extraordinary Congress of the Second International held 
in Basle (Switzerland) on November 24 and 25, 1912. The 

Manifesto spoke of the predatory nature of the imperialist war 
then in course of preparation and called upon socialists of all 
countries to fight resolutely against it. The Basle Manifesto 
repeated the propositions introduced into the resolution on war at 
the Stuttgart Congress (1907) of the Second International by 
Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg—in the event of the outbreak of an 
imperialist war, socialists should take advantage of the economic 
and political crisis to prepare the socialist revolution. The leaders 
of the Second International, Kautsky, Vandervelde and others who 
voted for these propositions, consigned the Basle Manifesto to 
oblivion when the First World War broke out and took the side 
of their imperialist governments. p. 257 

102 Lenin wrote this letter to Chicherin in connection with the note 

sent to the Soviet Government on July 20, 1920, by Lord Curzon, 
British Foreign Secretary, demanding the cessation of the Red 
Army’s offensive against the Polish whiteguards and threatening, 
if the demand were not acceded to, that Britain would enter the 
war on the side of Poland. At the same time the British Govern¬ 
ment proposed the cessation of the Red Army’s offensive against 
Wrangel’s whiteguard army and broke off the trade negotiations 
between Britain and Soviet Russia held in London in June and 
July 1920. The Soviet Government’s reply, of which Lenin speaks 
in this letter, was dispatched on July 23, 1920; in its note the 
Soviet Government stated that on July 22 it had received a proposal 
from the Polish Government to start negotiations for an armistice 
and that the Soviet Government had given its consent. At the 
same time the Soviet Government demanded the unconditional 
surrender of Wrangel and consented to a conference with the 
Entente powers. p. 258 

103 At this conference, held in Moscow from September 22 to 
September 25, 1920, Lenin delivered the political report of the 
Central Committee, which dealt chiefly with the question of war 
and peace with Poland and the organisation of Wrangel’s defeat. 



A resolution on the terms on which peace would be concluded 
with Poland was adopted unanimously. The conference approved 
the Declaration of the All-Russia Central Executive Committee on 
the concrete terms for peace with Poland, drawn up under the 
direct guidance of Lenin. p. 260 

A Council of Action was formed by the British workers in 
August 1920 in London at a joint meeting of representatives of the 
Trades Union Congress, the Labour Party Executive and the 
Parliamentary Labour Party. The purpose of the Council of 
Action was to oppose Britain taking part in the war against the 
Soviet Republic. p. 262 

Peace with Poland was discussed at a conference on the cessa¬ 
tion of hostilities and the establishment of peaceful relations be¬ 
tween the R.S.F.S.R. and the Ukrainian S.S.R. on the one hand 
and Poland on the other. Despite the attempts of the imperialists 
to prevent it, the conference opened in Minsk on August 17 and 
continued up to the end of the month. The Soviet Government 
then agreed to the proposal of the Polish Government to transfer 
the negotiations from Minsk, which was then within reach of the 
front, to Riga. On September 21 the conference resumed its work 
in Riga. 

To save the people from the further privations which a severe 
winter campaign of continued war would have meant for them, 
the Soviet Government made important concessions to Poland. 
The negotiations ended on October 12, 1920, and a Treaty on an 
Armistice and Preliminary Peace Terms Between the R.S.F.S.R. 
and the Ukrainian S.S.R. on the one side and Poland on the other 
was signed. p. 262 

' Polish Socialist Party (Polska Partja Socialyasticzna), a petty - 
bourgeois nationalist party founded in 1892. 

People’s Party (Portia Ludowa )—a petty-bourgeois peasant 
organisation. p. 263 

1 The First Congress of the Peoples of the East was held in Baku 
from September 1 to September 7, 1920. It was attended by 1,891 
delegates representing 37 nationalities. There were 1,273 Com¬ 
munists among the delegates. The Congress expressed solidarity 
with the resolution of the Second Congress of the Communist 
International on the national and colonial questions. p. 277 

} The Anglo-Soviet trade negotiations began on May 31, 1920, and 

the basic terms of an agreement were settled by July 7. At the 
time of the Soviet-Polish war, however, the British Government 
broke off negotiations. On November 9, 1920, the R.S.F.S.R. 

Government sent the British Government a note asking for a direct 
and speedy answer: was the British Government prepared to start 
negotiations immediately to reach an economic and political 
agreement? The British Cabinet met on November 14 and a state¬ 
ment was issued to the press that the majority of the ministers 



were in favour of an agreement. On November 18, Lloyd George 
informed the House of Commons that the basis for an agreement 
with Russia had been worked out. On November 29, 1920, Krasin 
was officially handed a draft trade agreement and the negotiations 
were renewed. 

Those hostile to an Anglo-Soviet agreement, however, put a 
brake on the negotiations and the agreement was not signed until 
March 16, 1921. Under the agreement the contracting parties 
undertook not to engage in hostile acts and propaganda against 
each other; trade relations between Great Britain and Russia were 
resumed. This agreement marked Britain’s de facto recognition of 
Soviet Russia. The agreement with Great Britain, one of the 
biggest capitalist countries, was an important success for the 
foreign policy of the Soviet state. p. 280 

109 Information had at that time been received that British forces, 

with the consent of the Georgian Menshevik Government, intended 
to occupy Batum. In this connection, G. V. Chicherin, People’s 
Commissar for Foreign Affairs, sent a wireless message to the 
British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon (November 16, 1920), 

saying that the Soviet Government regarded the occupation of 
Batum as an attempt to start a fresh war in the Caucasus, and 
drew attention to the serious consequences of such an act. p. 280 

110 This conference was held on November 20, 21 and 22, 1920. 
Lenin’s speech, delivered on November 21, was published as a 
pamphlet in Russian, German and French at the end of 1920. 

p. 283 

111 In 1920-21 the Soviet Government conducted negotiations with 

W. Vanderlip on concessions in Kamchatka. p. 288 

112 At this Congress Lenin reported on the work of the Council 

of People’s Commissars and spoke to the R.C.P. group at the 
Congress on questions of home and foreign policy. A resolution 
approving the work of the government was passed following 
Lenin’s report. The Congress also approved the plan for the 
electrification of Russia proposed by Lenin and passed Lenin’s 
resolution on the report on electrification. The Congress adopted 
a number of decisions on economic development and government 
organisation. p. 291 

113 This refers to Lenin’s speech at a meeting of the active 
membership of the Moscow Party organisation, December 6, 1920. 

p. 292 

114 The Far Eastern Republic (F.E.R.) was a democratic state 
founded under the leadership of the Bolsheviks during the struggle 
of the working people against the foreign interventionists in the 
Far East of Russia. It existed from April 6, 1920, to November 
14, 1922, when it joined the R.S.F.S.R. The F.E.R. included all 
the territory from Lake Baikal to the Pacific Ocean. It was a buffer 
state, bourgeois-democratic in form, that pursued what was 
actually a Soviet policy; the formation of the F.E.R. was in the 



interests of Soviet Russia, which was avoiding an open military 
conflict with Japanese imperialism, and striving to ensure the 
country a long respite in the Far East. On May 14, 1920, the 
Soviet Government recognised the F.E.R. Government as the 
government of the whole Far Eastern area. F.E.R. policy was 
guided by the Far Eastern Bureau of the C.C. R.C.P. (B.). p. 293 

115 On May 26, 1919, the Allied Council sent a note to Kolchak in 
which the French, British, Italian, U.S. and Japanese governments 
announced their readiness to help Kolchak and recognise him as 
the head of the “All-Russia Government”. p. 294 

110 The Decree of the Council of People’s Commissars, “General 
Economic and Legal Terms for Concessions”, was published on 
November 23, 1920. p. 304 

117 Sukharevka was a market on Sukharevskaya (now Kolkhoznaya) 
Square in Moscow; the name became a synonym for profiteering, 
especially in food. Shortly before the opening of the Eighth All- 
Russia Congress of Soviets, Sukharevka Market was closed by 
order of the Presidium of Moscow Soviet (December 13, 1920). 

p. 310 

118 On August 10, 1920, the French Government officially announced 
its recognition of Wrangel as the ruler of South Russia. p. 315 

119 The Bukhara People’s Soviet Republic was founded after a popular 
uprising, supported by the Red Army, had overthrown the rule 
of the Emir in September 1920. 

The Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic was founded in April 
1920 following the overthrow of the counter-revolutionary govern¬ 
ment by an armed uprising of the working people supported by 
the Red Army. 

The Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic was founded in Novem¬ 
ber 1920 after an uprising of the Armenian people, supported 
by the Red Army, against the bourgeois-nationalist government 
and the Turkish invaders. p. 317 

120 This Congress was held in Moscow from February 1 to February 6; 

it discussed the following points: the work of the Central Com¬ 
mittee of the union; economic tasks; labour rates and quotas; the 
international association of trade unions, etc. p. 323 

121 The plenary meeting of the Moscow Soviet was held jointly with 

plenary meetings of district Soviets and representatives of factory 
committees; it discussed the international and internal situation. 
The meeting unanimously approved a message to the workers, 
peasants and Red Army units of Moscow City and Moscow 
Gubernia calling for a struggle against the enemies of Soviet 
power who were trying to take advantage of temporary food 
difficulties for counter-revolutionary purposes. p. 330 

122 The negotiations between the Soviet Government and the Turkish 
delegation began in Moscow in June 1920, and ended on March 



16, 1921 with the signing of a Treaty of Friendship and Fraternity 
between Soviet Russia and Turkey. p. 330 

123 Soviet power was established in Georgia in February 1921 after 

the overthrow of the counter-revolutionary Menshevik nationalist 
government by an armed uprising of the working people supported 
by the Red Army. p. 333 

124 The Tenth Congress of the R.C.P.(B.) summed up the discussion 
on the trade unions and adopted Lenin’s platform by a majority 
vote. The Congress also adopted the resolutions “The Unity of the 
Party” and “The Syndicalist and Anarchist Deviation in our 
Party” tabled by Lenin. Following Lenin’s report the Congress 
passed a decision to substitute a tax in kind for the surplus 
appropriation system and switch to the New Economic Policy. 
The Congress unanimously adopted resolutions on the current 
tasks of the Party in the national question, etc., and on the 
“Soviet Republic in the Capitalist Encirclement”. The Congress 
approved the policy of the Soviet Government in establishing normal 
commercial relations between the Soviet Republic and other 
countries by the conclusion of trade treaties and agreements. The 
Congress also approved the Decree of the Council of People’s 
Commissars, “General Economic and Legal Terms for Concessions” 
of November 23, 1920. The Congress resolution on this point said 
that the protection of the economic and political independence 
of all the Republic’s territory and the protection of the labour of 
R.S.F.S.R. citizens employed in concession enterprises must be the 
basic conditions of agreements with any capitalist states or groups. 

p. 335 

125 The 21 conditions of admission to the Third International were 

drawn up by Lenin and adopted by the Second World Congress 
of the Communist International in August 1920. p. 335 

128 The Kronstadt counter-revolutionary revolt began on February 28, 

1921. The Tenth Congress of the Party sent 300 of its delegates 
to participate in crushing the revolt; the revolt was put down by 
March 18. p. 340 

127 The Tenth Conference was an extraordinary conference that heard 
and discussed Lenin’s report on the tax in kind and adopted 
Lenin’s resolution on the New Economic Policy. p. 341 

,2S This letter was written in connection with the negotiations in Riga 
in August 1921 between the delegations of the Soviet Government 
and the American Relief Administration headed by U.S. Secretary 
of Commerce Hoover. The agreement was signed on August 20, 1921. 

p. 342 

129 This note was written in reply to a letter from Chicherin about 
a note from the British Foreign Office handed to the People’s 
Commissar for Foreign Affairs by the British representative. The 
note was neither addressed nor signed and contained inventions 



about the Soviet Government having violated the Anglo-Soviet 
agreement. p. 343 

130 In a letter addressed to Lenin on October 15, 1921, Chicherin 

said that the dissolution by the Soviet Government of the All-Russia 
Famine Relief Committee for counter-revolutionary activities, the 
break-down of the negotiations with Urquhart on concessions, 
etc., had worsened the international position of the R.S.F.S.R. 
Chicherin proposed measures to improve relations with the capi¬ 
talist countries. The measures proposed by Chicherin were the 
withdrawal, of Lenin and Trotsky from the Executive Committee 
of the Communist International and a statement by the Soviet 
Government, signed by Lenin, Trotsky and Chicherin on the 
recognition of the debts of the tsarist government; he proposed 
this because the Brussels Conference, held in October 1921, made 
the recognition of the debts of former governments a condition 
for the granting of credits to the Soviet Government for the relief 
of the famine-stricken. p. 348 

131 The Ninth All-Russia Congress of Soviets was held in Moscow 

from December 23 to December 28, 1921. Following Lenin’s report 
on the home and foreign policy of the Republic the Congress 
unanimously approved the activities of the Soviet Government for 
the current year. The Congress adopted a declaration on the 
international position of the R.S.F.S.R. based on the proposals 
contained in this letter. The Congress also adopted “Instructions 
on Questions of Economic Work” drawn up by Lenin and a 
number of decisions on industry, agriculture and government 
organisation. p. 349 

m The Washington Conference was held between November 12, 1921, 
and February 6, 1922. It was called on the initiative of the U.S.A., 
with Great Britain, Belgium, Holland, Italy, China, Portugal, the 
U.S.A., France and Japan participating. Soviet Russia was not 
invited to the conference. The purpose of the conference was to 
complete the share-out of colonial possessions and spheres of 
influence in the Far East and the Pacific Ocean. The most important 
acts signed at the conference were: the Four-Power Treaty (U.S.A., 
Britain, Japan, France) on the protection of “territorial rights” 
in the Pacific, the Nine-Power Treaty on the open-doors principle 
in China, and the Five-Power Treaty (U.S.A., Britain, Japan, 
France, Italy) on naval limitations. The Washington Conference 
was actually a continuation of the imperialist policy laid down 
in the Treaty of Versailles. The Washington Conference consider¬ 
ably increased the contradictions between the imperialist powers. 

p. 363 

133 This letter is a reply to the question raised on December 23, 1921, 
by L. Krasin who at that time headed the Soviet Mission in 
London. Krasin asked for material to be sent him on the situation 
in Georgia, the policy of the Georgian Revolutionary Committee 
and the plans for the convening of a Georgian Congress of Soviets. 



Krasin needed the material because he had received the resolution 
adopted by the Second International on November 22, 1921, to 
which the British Labour Party adhered. The resolution demanded 
the withdrawal of the Red Army from Georgia, and the holding 
of a referendum in that country. Krasin also quoted a demand 
published in the journal Nation insisting that the Soviet Govern¬ 
ment bow to European democratic opinion if it wished to enter 
into relations with the European democracies. A Pravda editorial, 
“The Recognition of Soviet Power and the Second International” 
published on December 28, 1921, was written in accordance with 
Lenin’s proposals. p. 365 

134 fhe Cannes resolution was adopted at a conference of the Allied 
Council in January 1922 in the town of Cannes, France. This 
conference decided to call an economic and financial conference 
in Genoa in February or March 1922. All European countries, 
including Soviet Russia and the countries defeated in the First 
World War, were invited. 

The Allied Council laid down six conditions necessary for the 
success of the conference: (1) non-intervention of states in the 
internal affairs of other nations; (2) a guarantee of the inviolability 
of the property, rights and profits of foreigners granting credits 
to any state; (3) the recognition by the governments of countries 
wishing to obtain credits of all old debts, the restoration of all 
property belonging to foreigners or compensation for it and also 
the restoration of a system of laws ensuring the fulfilment of com¬ 
mercial and other deals; (4) the establishment of financial and 
currency conditions that would guarantee trade; (5) restraint from 
propaganda hostile to other countries; (6) restraint from any acts 
against neighbours. 

On January 7, 1922, Italy, in the name of the Allied Council, 
sent the Soviet Government an invitation to participate in the 
Genoa Conference, The Soviet Government announced its consent 
in a statement dated January 8, 1922. p. 367 

135 The Fifth All-Russia Congress of Metalworkers was held in Moscow, 

March 3-7, 1922. Lenin spoke to the Communist group at the 
Congress on the morning of March 6. p. 368 

136 Tfe Q enoa International Economic Conference, April 10-May 19, 
1922, was attended by representatives of 29 states, Soviet Russia. 
Britain, France, Italy, Belgium, Japan and Germany among them. 
A U.S. representative was present as an observer. At the conference 
the imperialist powers tried to take advantage of Soviet Russia’s 
economic difficulties to impose on her agreements on terms of 
bondage. They demanded the payment of all tsarist debts, includ¬ 
ing pre-war debts, the return of nationalised enterprises to 
foreigners, etc. 

Lenin was nominated chairman of the Soviet delegation at an 
Extraordinary Session of the All-Russia Central Executive Com¬ 
mittee on January 27, 1922. He was unable to go to Genoa, but he 
actually guided the work of the Soviet delegation, gave instructions 



on the framing of questions and on the contents of memoranda 
submitted in the name of the Soviet Government during the 
conference. The Soviet delegation rejected the insolent claims of 
the imperialists and tabled a motion on general disarmament and 
the annulling of war debts. Owing to the hostile position of Britain 
and France towards the Soviet Republic, the conference broke 
down. The discussion of the questions involved was continued at 
a conference of experts held in The Hague in June and July, 1922. 
Like the Genoa Conference, it produced no results. 

Lenin outlined the basic tasks of Soviet foreign policy, having 
in mind the Genoa Conference, in his speech to the Communist 
group at the Metalworkers’ Congress and in the political report 
of the Central Committee to the Eleventh Party Congress (see 
pp. 366-77 and 378-81 of this volume) p. 368 

137 This refers to Lenin’s speech at a meeting of the First All-Russia 
Congress of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies on June 
4 (17), 1917, on the attitude to the Provisional Government, p. 375 

138 This was the last Party Congress attended by Lenin. He made the 

opening speech, delivered the political report of the Central Com¬ 
mittee of the R.C.P.(B.), closed the discussion on the report and 
made a speech closing the Congress. The Congress summed up the 
results of the first year of the New Economic Policy and passed 
resolutions on the role and tasks of the trade unions under the 
New Economic Policy, financial policy, work in the rural areas 
and the strengthening of the Party and its new tasks. p. 380 

139 This refers to the Treaty of Rapallo concluded between the Soviet 

Government and Germany on April 16, 1922, during the Genoa 
Conference. The Treaty provided for the establishment of dip¬ 
lomatic relations between the two countries and a mutual refusal 
to demand war reparations. The German Government withdrew the 
claim for the return of enterprises nationalised by the Soviet 
Government to their former German owners. The conclusion of 
the Treaty meant the complete collapse of the attempts by the 
British and French imperialists to create a united front of capi¬ 
talist countries against Soviet Russia for the purpose of enslaving 
her economically. p. 384 

i4 ° In September 1922, Edouard Herriot, a prominent French politician, 
came to Moscow and had unofficial talks with members of the 
Soviet Government. Herriot expressed the opinions of those French 
bourgeois circles which, under the influence of the successes of 
Soviet power in restoring the economy and the failure of the 
Genoa Conference to impose an unequal treaty on Russia, favoured 
the normalisation of relations and the development of trade 
between France and the Soviet Republic. p. 386 

141 This refers to the conference on the Middle East that was being 
prepared by Britain, France and Italy in connection with the 
failure of British and Greek intervention in Turkey. The imperialist 
powers at first tried to keep the Soviet Republic out of the 



conference altogether, but then, forced to recognise its growing 
international prestige, stated in a note dated October 7, 1922, that 
Soviet Russia would be represented only at that part of the 
conference at which the question of the Black Sea Straits would 
be discussed. On October 20, 1922, the Soviet Government sent a 
note of protest and then, on November 2, 1922, sent a new note 
to the “inviting powers” insisting on the participation of the 
R.S.F.S.R., the Ukrainian S.S.R. and the Georgian S.S.R. in the 
entire Middle East conference. 

The conference opened in Lausanne on November 20, 1922, and 
lasted until July 24, 1923. It was attended by Great Britain, 
France, Italy, Japan, Greece, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Turkey; the 
discussions on the Black Sea Straits were attended by the R.S.F.S.R., 
the Ukrainian and the Georgian S.S.R. (represented by a single 
delegation) and Bulgaria, Albania, Belgium, Holland, Spain, 
Portugal, Norway and Sweden were invited to the discussions on 
some points. 

The conference ended in the conclusion of a peace treaty 
between Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Greece, Rumania and 
Yugoslavia on the one hand, and Turkey on the other. 

The question of a regime for the Black Sea Straits (Dardanelles 
and Bosphorus) occupied an important place on the conference 
agenda. The Soviet delegation put forward the proposals formulated 
by Lenin in this present interview. These proposals were not 
accepted. The Convention on the Straits accepted by the Lausanne 
Conference allowed the free passage of merchant vessels and 
warships sailing under any flag at any time. The Convention was 
not ratified by the Soviet Union, since it violated her legitimate 
rights and did not guarantee the security of the Black Sea countries. 

p. 388 

142 Lenin made this speech at the last meeting of the session, which 
lasted from October 23 to October 31, 1922. p. 393 

W3 The plenary session of Moscow Soviet was held jointly with plenary 
meetings of all the Moscow district Soviets. This speech, delivered 
on the evening of November 20, 1922, was Lenin’s last public 
speech. p. 396 

144 Thi s refers to the decision of the National Assembly of the Far 

Eastern Re